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East Troublesome Post-Fire BAER

Unit Information

Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland
U.S. Forest Service
2150 Centre Avenue Building E
Fort Collins, CO 80526

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The East Troublesome Fire was reported on the afternoon of October 14. The origination point was northeast of Kremmling in Grand County, Colo. on the Arapaho National Forest. The cause is still under investigation. Within three days, high winds and low humidity allowed the fire to spread to over 10,000 acres. The direction of fire spread threatened State Highway 125 and forced the closure of the road and mandatory evacuation of approximately 90 homes by October 17.

Between Oct. 20-23, the fire spread increased dramatically with 24-hour increases of around 18,000 to 87,000 acres during the four-day run. The peak fire spread of 87,093 acres occurred between late afternoon on Oct. 21 and the early afternoon of Oct. 22. The size of the fire exploded from 18,550 acres to 187,964 acres during this period. The fire crossed Highway 125 on the afternoon of Oct. 21 and spread eastward into the Rocky Mountain National Park on Oct. 22, crossing the Continental Divide and reaching the western edge of Estes Park on Oct. 23.

The fire was fueled by wide-spread drought, numerous dead and down beetle-killed trees, red flag weather conditions created by high winds and dry conditions, and poor humidity recovery overnight. The combination of these factors led to unprecedented, wind-driven, active fire behavior with rapid spread during the overnight hours. During this period the area north of US Highway 40 from near Granby and extending eastward to Grand Lake and Estes Park had over 7,000 structures threatened, and a population of over 35,000 placed under a mandatory evacuation.

A winter storm from Saturday, Oct. 24 through the morning of Oct. 26 brought very cold temperatures, precipitation in the form of snow and lighter winds, resulting in a dramatic drop in fire behavior with smoldering and reduced fire spread on both sides of the Continental Divide. Over this 3-day period, fire growth fell to a total of around 4,500 acres for a total of 192,457 acres. From that point forward, fire activity remained minimal with little change in area and a final total acreage of 193,812. The fire was declared contained on Nov. 30, 2020.

Land managers have turned their attention to post wildfire emergency response and recovery efforts. Impacted areas included the Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests, Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests, Bureau of Land Management, Rocky Mountain National Park, and private lands. A preliminary estimate of 366 residences and 214 outbuildings and commercial structures were destroyed or damaged. Portions of these areas remain closed for public safety due to snag trees and other hazards.

There are three phases of recovery following wildfires on federal lands: 

  • Fire Suppression Repair is a series of immediate post-fire actions taken to repair damages and minimize potential soil erosion and impacts resulting from fire suppression activities and usually begins before the fire is contained, and before the demobilization of an Incident Management Team. This work repairs the hand and dozer fire lines, roads, trails, staging areas, safety zones, and drop points used during fire suppression efforts.
  • Emergency Stabilization-Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) is a rapid assessment of burned watersheds by a BAER team to identify imminent post-wildfire threats to human life and safety, property, and critical natural or cultural resources on National Forest System lands and take immediate actions to implement emergency stabilization measures before the first post-fire damaging events. Fires result in loss of vegetation, exposure of soil to erosion, and increased water runoff that may lead to flooding, increased sediment, debris flows, and damage to critical natural and cultural resources. BAER actions such as: mulching, seeding, installation of erosion and water run-off control structures, temporary barriers to protect recovering areas, and installation of warning signs may be implemented. BAER work may also replace safety related facilities; remove safety hazards; prevent permanent loss of habitat for threatened and endangered species; prevent the spread of noxious weeds; and protect critical cultural resources.
  • Long-Term Recovery and Restoration utilizes non-emergency actions to improve fire-damaged lands that are unlikely to recover naturally and to repair or replace facilities damaged by the fire that are not critical to life and safety. This phase may include restoring burned habitat, reforestation, other planting or seeding, monitoring fire effects, replacing burned fences, interpreting cultural sites, treating noxious weed infestations, and installing interpretive signs.

Basic Information

Current as of
Incident TypeBurned Area Emergency Response
Coordinates40.25 latitude, -105.9 longitude