A Colorado wildfire forced hundreds of people to evacuate as it exploded to more than six times its size overnight Thursday, according to officials.
The suitably named East Troublesome Fire had spread over 19,000 acres late Wednesday — but by Thursday morning had spread to 125,602 acres, according to an official incident report.
It was listed as being only 5 percent contained and is already the fourth-largest wildfire in state history, with the worst two also both from 2020, the Denver Channel noted.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered late Wednesday & in a large area, including the whole town of Grand Lake and the surrounding area close to Rocky Mountain National Park.
“We never, ever expected 6,000 acres per hour to come upon our community,” Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin said in a Facebook video posted around 1 a.m. Thursday.
He praised a series of “incredible rescues” and “incredible evacuations” during what was an “extremely, extremely challenging.”
“Daylight’s gonna tell us a lot,” he said ominously.
Officials blamed high winds as well as dry conditions giving “fuel” to the fire for its rapid spread — warning that they were still in place Thursday.
“Unfortunately, today is another fire day,” the incident commander said in a Facebook update Thursday.
“We anticipate another day of large fire growth,” he said. “It’s going to be a long day … we’re not out of the woods,” he said, urging residents to abide by evacuation orders.
If it grows another 12,500 acres, the East Troublesome Fire would become the third-largest in state history — making the top three all from 2020, according to the Denver Channel’s stats.