C Lazy U Ranch evacuates 200 livestock as Troublesome Fire moves northeast

From left, Assistant General Manager Paul Klees, Equestrian Director Ami Cullen and Chief Engineer Dave Christman work to get about 200 horses onto trailers Friday evening at the C Lazy U Ranch after officials issued a pre-evacuation order for the area due to the East Troublesome Fire.
Eli Pace /

The C Lazy U Ranch has put its emergency plan into action with the East Troublesome Fire thrusting the ranch into an almost apocalyptic scene of smoke.

On Friday, C Lazy U General Manager David Craig said the ranch closed to guests on Thursday after contacting them and helping a few who needed new accommodations find somewhere else to stay. Craig said the next set of arrivals isn’t scheduled until Monday, and C Lazy U will continue to evaluate the situation to see how long the closure might last.

“Primarily, the reason we’re closing is because of the smoke danger,” he said. “The smoke is just not safe for people, activities and our horses.”

With about 200 head of livestock and the fire raging roughly 8-10 miles away from the ranch property, everyone at C Lazy U remains on high alert. The ranch had already evacuated about a dozen horses by Friday afternoon, including a colt born Sept. 25, some of the older animals and a couple with sensitive health issues.

“It’s incredibly smoky,” Craig said, describing the scene at the ranch as almost apocalyptic with the amount of smoke they have, and he can literally see the plume moving across the horizon.

The East Troublesome Fire is seen behind elk mountain.
Courtesy Maria Trail

That heavy smoke is also causing problems for nearby communities and the highways. Officials’ latest estimates have the blaze at 7,871 acres and growing near the Elk Mountain Trailhead and the administrative boundary between the Parks/Sulphur Ranger Districts.

A Red Flag Warning will remain effect through late Saturday afternoon with little chance for moisture over the weekend.  

The east side of Colorado Highway 125 to US Highway 34 is under a pre-evacation order, but the fire has not crossed 125. That’s good news for C Lazy U, which sits on 8,500 acres near the Willow Creek Reservoir, east of CO 125.

With the ranch under a pre-evacation order, C Lazy U is undergoing the painstaking process of moving all its animals. On Friday evening, numerous people at the ranch were seen working to get the horses onto a series of trailers lined up and ready to go. Based on the number of animals at C Lazy U, they will likely be there well into the night.

“We feel like, if we get a pre-evac order, then we’ll probably begin to move horses only because it’s going to take some time,” Craig said about an hour before the pre-evacuation order was issued.

He added that many people in the community had reached out to offer trailers, manpower and pasture, and that has been a true blessing in this difficult time.

Craig said also he has also been in close contact with local fire officials. While C Lazy U no longer has guests at the ranch, Craig said he has been relaying that information to the ranch’s roughly 85-90 workers, including about 40-50 who live on the property.

“I just want people to know that we have an established fire plan, and we’re sticking to it,” Craig said as he applauded local officials and the community for their efforts and help.

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