ENVIRONMENT

Colorado Wildfire Darkens Midday Skies In Unsettling Images

The East Troublesome fire grew more than five times in size in a day, prompting traffic jams under orange skies as residents evacuated towns.

Evacuees waited in traffic jams under dark midday skies as a fast-growing blaze threatened towns near Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park, leaving surroundings bathed in unsettling shades of orange and red.

The fire, called East Troublesome, grew five times in size in a day to more than 170,000 acres on Thursday, making it the second-largest wildfire in state history. Meanwhile, the state’s largest-ever fire, the Cameron Peak Fire, continues to burn, growing to more than 206,000 acres to the northeast. Officials fear the two blazes could combine as windy conditions continue to whip the flames.

Ernie Bjorkman, a Grand Lake town councilman, told Colorado Public Radio he evacuated in a hurry on Wednesday evening.

“It was basically out of a movie. It was a firestorm in downtown Grand Lake. Smoke and embers flying around. It was just a chaotic scene,” Bjorkman said. “We locked the door and said, ‘Hopefully, house, we’ll see you when we get back.’”

The fire forced the closure of the national park, and, as thousands of residents in nearby Grand County and Estes Park evacuated, clogging roads along the evacuation routes. Images show jammed roads under orange skies, wildlife moving through the smoke and the famous Stanley Hotel in Estes Park ― the inspiration for Stephen King’s bestselling novel “The Shining” ― shrouded by smoke.

See a roundup of images from Estes Park below.