An elderly couple who cherished their home next to Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park were confirmed dead in a wildfire that exploded in size Wednesday evening, the sheriff said Friday.
The bodies of Lyle and Marilyn Hileman, 86 and 84 years old, were recovered Friday, Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin said in a video statement.
The couple, who the family said married at a young age, honeymooned in the area in 1952, and then bought the property outside Grand Lake, refused to evacuate as the East Troublesome Fire grew by more than 100,000 acres Wednesday evening.
The fire’s rapid growth prompted urgent evacuation warnings for the entire town of Grand Lake and other communities.
Schroetlin called it “a catastrophic event in our small community” that affected Grand Lake, other subdivisions in northern Grand County and the national park.
There are no other missing people in the fire, Schroetlin said. Damage assessments are ongoing.
Emergency responders helping with evacuation efforts were met with a fire front that forced many from the area, the sheriff said, and they returned several times to continue evacuation efforts.
The couple spoke with their son Wednesday evening and were adamant about staying, the family said in a statement read by the sheriff.—AP