On August 13th, the Cameron Peak Fire started and has now burned for over 80 days. It has threatened the nearby communities of Glen Haven, The Retreat, and Storm Mountain. On October 22nd, the East Troublesome Fire grew exponentially from Grand County, surprisingly jumping 1.5 miles of the continental divide, and started the Thompson Zone of the fire in the Spruce Canyon of Rocky Mountain National Park.
By the mid morning of October 22nd, Estes Park was nearly surrounded by fire on three sides. Without any previous warning, evacuation notifications began flooding the phones of Estes Park residents. By 12:30pm, the mass exodus began. Almost 30,000 people were evacuated within five hours. The day of evacuation was like a scene right out of a movie. Ash was falling from the blood red sky as sirens roared through town. Eerie doesn't quite capture it. It will be an unforgettable day for all of those who were in town. Thousands of people prayed over the course of the next 48 hours and surge resources were requested from near and far. Saturday became an unprecedented battle in the Valley with every possible tactic being employed to save the town of Estes Park.
There is no earthly explanation as to why the fire got "hung up" in the National Park. By every metric, they expected it to exit the Park by daybreak on Saturday and begin its destruction in town. The firefighters put up an epic fight and were called back to their safety zones on occasion as it made an advance toward town. Miraculously, the wind shifted to the west (toward the mountains from the town) which almost never happens, and literally kept the fire within the confines of the Park. We are hearing testimony after testimony that this is only explained as answer to thousands of fervent prayers. At one point in time, there were over a thousand firefighters waiting to defend this beloved town. The snow came at precisely the right time and put this giant to sleep.
As of Saturday night, "The fire split into two fingers with one moving northeast along the Big Thompson River to Moraine Park and one east along Mill Creek into Hollowell Park...the fire is continuing to hold west of Bear Lake Road and Trail Ridge Road, within the park....The East Troublesome Fire, which started on October 14, has grown to over 190,000 acres." The town of Estes Park was unscathed. The fight is not over, but the opponent is not as formidable under a blanket of snow. As of October 31st, "almost 29,000 acres have burned inside Rocky Mountain National Park on the East Troublesome Fire and the Cameron Peak Fire. This is the most acres burned within the park since its establishment 105 years ago."
We have been told repeatedly that we are not out of the woods yet. We have been instructed not to unpack and be ready to leave within an hour again. This little town has a lot heart. It's endearing to see the comradery of the community and the never give up attitude. The state motto of Colorado is "Nothing without Providence." Google says, "Below the shield, on a scroll, is the motto, "Nil Sine Numine", Latin words meaning "Nothing without providence" or "nothing without the Deity", and at the bottom the figures 1876, the year Colorado came into statehood." We kneel at the feet of Providence, more familiarly known as our Lord and Savior, who has enabled this town to stand still today.