Snow Falls in Colorado, Helping Put Out Massive Blazes That Are Burning Through the State

"I can see all of the hot spots being smothered and steaming from the snow," the Grand Lake Fire Protection District wrote on Facebook

Snow in Colorado
Snow in Colorado. Photo: Grand Lake Fire Protection District

Winter has come early in Colorado, but it's providing some much-needed assistance against the massive flames that are burning through the state.

Over the weekend and into Monday, parts of Colorado that had recently been burning amid the massive wildfires were slammed with a snowstorm that ultimately helped damper the blaze, NBC News reported.

"We're going from critical fire danger ending at 7 p.m. to a midnight winter storm watch," Boulder-based National Weather Service meteorologist Evan Direnzo said, according to the outlet.

In the Grand Lake Fire Protection District — where up to seven people had lost their homes from the blaze so far — officials wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday, "It’s happening... I can see all of the hot spots being smothered and steaming from the snow."

Snow in Colorado
Snow in Colorado. Grand Lake Fire Protection District

Areas including Cameron Pass, San Isabel, Rosita, Horsetooth Mountain, Red Feather Lakes, Fort Collins and Beulah had received over 15 inches of snow as of Monday, according to Fox affiliate KDVR.

Several other parts of the state, such as Aurora, Boulder, downtown Denver, Aspen and Colorado City, received anywhere from three to 15 inches, KDVR reported, citing the National Weather Service.

According to the local outlet, the snowstorm is expected to continue moving south toward Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Lamar, with the total snow accumulation over the fires so far ranging from one to two feet.

KDVR also reported that the temperatures in Denver are expected to drop down to below zero — marking a record low for the city for the first time since 1997.

Despite the frigid weather at the beginning of the week, meteorologists believe temperatures will warm up later in the week, with dry weather, sunshine and a high of 60 degrees expected by Halloween, KDVR stated.

Snow in Colorado
Snow in Colorado. Grand Lake Fire Protection District

The snowfall comes just a few days after thousands of Colorado residents were forced to evacuate their homes in the wake of the massive fires.

The Cameron Peak Fire and the CalWood Fire forced nearly 3,000 people in Boulder County to leave their residences on Oct. 18, USA Today reported.

The CalWood Fire began burning on Oct. 17 and has destroyed more than 10,105 acres, according to InciWeb. As of Monday, it has been 76 percent contained and officials said "cold temperatures along with snow will result in minimal fire activity."

Meanwhile, about 50 miles southeast, the Cameron Peak Fire — which has now become the largest in state history — has burned more than 208,663 acres since Aug. 13, InciWeb said.

"It just exploded," Mike Wagner, division chief with the Boulder County Sheriff's Office, said of the CalWood Fire during a briefing, per USA Today. "We do believe multiple homes were probably lost. It's still too dynamic to get in and begin to assess."

Smoke from the Cameron Peak Fire fills the sky
Wildfires in Colorado. Bethany Baker/Fort Collins Coloradoan via AP

At 64 percent containment, the Cameron Peak Fire has also been partially extinguished thanks to the snowstorm, which came from the north, according to InciWeb.

"It snowed across the entire fire area 'which is a huge plus for all of the firefighters who have been engaged for the past 76 days,' stated Operations Section Chief Paul Delmerico," InciWeb stated in an update on Monday. "Due to the weather, fire managers did not see any fire growth or activity yesterday and expect that to continue today."

"Wind chills, road conditions and safety of firefighters continue to delay fire suppression actions this morning," the update continued.

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In addition to the evacuations, authorities confirmed that the East Troublesome fire — which has burned 192,560 total acres so far, north of Hot Sulphur Springs, and is only 15 percent contained, according to InciWeb — killed a married couple in their 80s.

The Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin said in a video statement Friday that the bodies of Lyle and Marilyn Hileman were recovered earlier that day.

Lyle, 86, and Marilyn, 84, had been married since they were young and refused to evacuate their property outside Grand Lake, their family said, per Schroetlin.

According to officials, there are about 1,864 firefighters currently working on the Cameron Peak blaze, 374 personnel working on the CalWood fire and 443 first responders on the East Troublesome fire. The causes for the flames remain under investigation.

To help communities facing destructive wildfires in the Western U.S., consider donating to the following organizations:

The American Red Cross allows donors to direct funds to support people impacted by the fires.

GlobalGiving’s Wildfire Relief offers emergency funding to local efforts providing essentials to wildfire victims in need.

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