Grand Lake gathers to remember one year later
The Grand Lake community gathered at town park Thursday night, exactly a year after the East Troublesome Fire forced them to evacuate.
The group fanned out around the town’s flagpoles with a line of Grand Lake firefighters in front, the lights of fire engines flashing behind them on an enormous American flag. Chief Seth St. Germain began the ceremony by acknowledging the “dark and frightening monster” that came for Grand Lake on Oct. 21, 2020.
“All of us tonight have two things in common,” he said. “One, we were all affected by the pain and darkness caused by the East Troublesome Fire. Two, we all have overcome and conquered those pains and that darkness.”
The serene October night could not have been more different than the windy, smoke and fire filled evening Grand Lake experienced a year ago. After losing two lives and hundreds of homes in the fire that burned nearly 200,000 acres, the event was a moment for the community to gather and acknowledge that loss.
“Please understand that tonight, I do not want us to remember the sadness, the grief or the fear,” St. Germain said. “Tonight, I ask each and every one of you to remember the triumphs, the bravery, the love and the dedication to each other that was the towering beacon of light in those dark times.”
St. Germain thanked the crowd for being that anchor that helped his firefighters and other first responder agencies through the last year.
“We are all still here — all of us standing here together tonight one year later as neighbors, as friends and as a strong and healthy community,” he said.
St. Germain then asked that the crowd join him for 20 seconds of silence. The fire engines extinguished their lights and darkness fell over the group.
See more of Sky-Hi News’ coverage on the one year anniversary of the East Troublesome Fire at http://www.skyhinews.com/in-depth/east-troublesome-fire/.
For those 20 seconds, many remembered that fateful night. They remembered the year since, the neighbors who had left, all the challenges that have come with navigating recovery and the community that remained.
Following the moment of silence, still in darkness, Grand Lake Fire Marshal Dan Mayer rang a bell 21 times to represent Oct. 21. There was a brief paused before he rang it once more to signify the year that has passed.
The lights came back up, illuminating grim and teary faces. No one moved for a moment. Then a man approached the firefighters and shook their hands.
On Saturday, Grand Lakers are invited to gather once again, this time for a free community lunch to thank first responders over a meal. The event begins at 11 a.m. in town park and will feature local music and a community art piece.
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