Colorado wildfires: Rocky Mountain National Park closes, tourist town evacuates after fire erupts

Miles Blumhardt, Fort Collins Coloradoan

The tourist town of Grand Lake, Colorado, and surrounding area on the southwest edge of Rocky Mountain National Park is under mandatory evacuation after the East Troublesome Fire erupted Wednesday afternoon.

The wind-driven fire burning west of Lake Granby has quickly grown to more than 30,000 acres with 10% containment as of Wednesday evening, according to a fire video update, sending evacuees fleeing and closing the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Social media posts showed vehicles lined upon on highways trying to leave the area and flames could be seen from Granby and Grand Lake on Wednesday evening.

Evacuees are being asked to travel south on U.S. Highway 34 through Granby. Trail Ridge Road through RMNP is open for evacuees, though westbound travel is closed at Rainbow Curve.

The park said in a release that Trail Ridge Road travelers should be aware of low visibility due to wildfire smoke. It also said fire activity is rapidly changing and road closures may be put in place quickly.

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A evacuation center has been set up at the Inn at Silver Creek for East Troublesome evacuees.

According to the Colorado Climate Center, a weather station located 15 miles from where the fire exploded has recorded just 0.94 inches of precipitation since July 1 compared to an average of 7.07 inches. The next driest year in that time frame was in 1924 when the station received 2.34 inches of precipitation.

Reporter Miles Blumhardt looks for stories that impact your life. Be it news, outdoors, sports — you name it, he wants to report it. Have a story idea? Contact him at milesblumhardt@coloradoan.com or on Twitter @MilesBlumhardt.

This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Colorado wildfires: Rocky Mountain National Park closes, town evacuates