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Dozens Of Volunteers Fan Out To Clear Debris From East Troublesome Fire In Grand Lake

GRAND LAKE, Colo. (CBS4) - On Saturday about 150 people volunteered to kickstart the spring cleaning around Grand Lake after the East Troublesome Fire destroyed properties last fall.

"Timing for us was horrible, the snow hit. Couldn't really do much with the snow on the ground. We had to do it the right way. So, we waited. We just got started today pretty much," said Travis Busse, the owner of the Winding River Ranch. "Now we have guys cleaning up the arena. All the cleanup of all the ash debris. But we're trying to take recycling of the metal. We're trying to recycle all the concrete from the burnt-out buildings to try to repurpose, so it doesn't go into the ground."

Damage from the East Troublesome Fire
Destruction of homes by the East Troublesome Fire can be seen in the Sun Valley area near Grand Lake, Colorado, on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. The East Troublesome Fire is 37% contained and 193,000 acres as of Sunday. The fire started on Wednesday, October 14 and overnight became one of Colorado's worst fires in history. (credit: Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)

A total of 13 sites were the focus of the volunteers cleaning, but Winding River Ranch was the biggest job. All 29 buildings on the ranch were destroyed by the fire.

"It's tough, it's hard to see from being here for 50 years. It's tough," Busse said holding back tears. "The help is incredible. These guys are doing great."

"Grand Lake is such a special place. People are just so willing to help, and it's just incredible to see how many people, even complete strangers," said Shannon Schliep, who helped organize the cleanup effort on Saturday.

(credit: CBS)

The work ranged from heavy machinery carrying scrap metal around the ranch to people sifting through dirt and ash to clean up nails, screws and other debris.

"It's so many different people, so many moving pieces, people have just been so incredible and willing to help," Schliep said.

winding river ranch
(credit: CBS)

Busse admits he hadn't spent much time cleaning up the ranch because he's been helping others as they begin to rebuild. The volunteers' work would have taken him weeks if not longer to do.

"To have all the volunteers and doing all this. It's a huge help," Busse said. "We all lost something in this fire, and everybody wants us all to get back on our feet and get going again. It means a lot to all of us."

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