Drowsy Water area evacuated as East Troublesome Fire burns over 15,000 acres

The East Troublesome Fire burning on Elk Mountain Monday night.
Emma Trainor /

One day after a neighborhood to the west of the East Troublesome Fire was downgraded to pre-evacuation orders, an area to the south of the flames was evacuated as winds continued to keep the fire active.

Heavy fire activity on Monday and Tuesday grew the East Troublesome Fire to 15,546 acres with 10% containment. Almost 300 personnel are assigned to the fire, with more resources on order.

The Grand County Sheriff’s Office evacuated on Tuesday the area around the Drowsy Water Creek, known as evacuation area D1 on the map, due to the southern growth of the fire. The Big Horn Park subdivision was downgraded to pre-evacuation on Monday.

Toward the end of the day Monday, the fire jumped a southern containment line, burning on Elk Mountain. Crews are working to adjust the southern containment line around Grouse Mountain, as well as continue strengthening lines on the west side of the fire near the Big Horn Park subdivision.

Aerial operations are also being utilized when possible, especially on the east side of the fire, to keep the flames from jumping CO Highway 125. On Monday, the fire was as close as a mile and a quarter to Highway 125 and moving at approximately a rate of a mile per five hours.

Red Flag conditions continued into Tuesday, foreshadowing more fire activity. 

With the quick growth the East Troublesome Fire has seen, it’s unclear when evacuated areas will be reopened, though the sheriff’s office said they would be evaluating the orders on Wednesday.

One area that remains in pre-evacuation status is C Lazy U Ranch, which is located around 8-10 miles from the fire. When the ranch got notice it was put on pre-evacuation orders Friday night, it had to find a way to shuttle around 200 livestock off the property. 

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.

General Manager David Craig said the ranch started to make calls to gather trailers at the ranch to transport their livestock and before they knew it, 20-25 trailers had made their way to C Lazy U to help evacuate.

“It was the most incredible thing, not only that we were doing this at night, but that we had such an outpouring of support,” Craig said. “It’s a testament to our barn manager and her team, as well as how people in our community came together.”

In all, it only took about three hours to clear the ranch and since then C Lazy U has moved equipment, files, supplies and artifacts off ranch for safekeeping. The horses are being kept on Orr Ranch and Craig identified Ed Orr and Merrit Linke as instrumental in helping get the herd to safety.

Craig added that the employees who usually reside on the ranch are staying at Winter Park Resort, thanking the resort for their help during this time.

Until the ranch is no longer on pre-evacuation orders, Craig said it will remain closed to guests. C Lazy U implemented a rolling seven day cancellation policy to allow guests some flexibility in their planning.

In the meantime, Craig is in close communication with fire officials and the sheriff’s office to stay updated on the potential threat to the ranch, which sits on 8,500 acres near the Willow Creek Reservoir, east of Highway 125.

Should the ranch need to be evacuated, Craig is confident that could happen quickly and safely. 

While the East Troublesome Fire has grown in size every day since it started, the Williams Fork Fire remains around 14,654 acres and 26% contained.

The fire has not seen much growth despite the Red Flag conditions in Grand County, mostly burning interior pockets of fuel. The fire is burning roughly seven miles north of Fraser near Byers Peak.

Firefighters continue to monitor the unsecured edge of the fire near Jones Pass, but have completely contained the western flank. 

Almost 200 personnel are assigned to the fire and aerial operations continue to be utilized when possible to slow the progression and address spotting.

No evacuation or pre-evacuation orders are in place for the Williams Fork Fire.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced it will offer refunds for some hunters affected by the fires around the state, including the East Troublesome and Williams Fork fires. CPW lists the hunting codes approved for refund applications on its website.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

The Sky-Hi News strives to deliver powerful stories that spark emotion and focus on the place we live.

Over the past year, contributions from readers like you helped to fund some of our most important reporting, including coverage of the East Troublesome Fire.

If you value local journalism, consider making a contribution to our newsroom in support of the work we do.