East Troublesome fire was human caused, U.S. Forest Service says following investigation

The East Troublesome Fire is pictured from Cottonwood Pass on the evening of Oct. 21, 2020, in Grand County. One year ago, the blaze grew more than 87,000 acres in a 24-hour period from Oct. 21-22, 2020.
Andrew Lussie/Courtesy photo

U.S. Forest Service officials say the East Troublesome fire was human caused following a multiagency investigation, according to a press release Tuesday.

The investigation involved the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Law Enforcement & Investigations division along with assistance from the Grand County Sheriff’s Department.

The Grand County Sheriff’s Office released this information during a meeting in March 2021, but this is the first time the Forest Service has issued it.

The agency says that given the location and time of year the fire started, it may have been caused by a hunter or a backcountry camper and possibly by accident. Investigators from both agencies are working to identify the person or persons responsible for starting the fire. The investigation is still active.

The East Troublesome Fire is one of the largest in Colorado’s history. It started north of Kremmling on the Arapaho National Forest on Oct. 14, 2020. The fire grew steadily until the afternoon of Oct. 21, 2020, when it created its own weather and exploded, burning 87,093 acres in one day. It was fueled by wide-spread drought, numerous dead and down beetle-killed trees, red flag weather conditions created by high winds, dry conditions and low humidity. The combination of these factors led to unprecedented wind-driven fire behavior with rapid spread. The fire burned over 500 structures and claimed two lives. The fire was finally contained on Nov. 30, 2020, after burning a total of 193,812 acres.

This fire not only destroyed homes and land but devastated a community. While some people have rebuilt and moved into their new homes, others have left the community completely, and many are still in dispute with their insurance companies.

Additional information will be released as it becomes available.

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