A wildfire may have forever changed this Colorado community — and who can afford to live there
This story is published in collaboration with Colorado Public Radio.
The fire had started its rush toward Grand Lake, Colorado, when Johanna Robinson sat down to a bowl of soup, a meal she now remembers as the last time she felt anywhere like home.
For two and a half years, Robinson and her husband, a painting contractor, had rented a tiny cabin near the western edge of Rocky Mountain National Park. Outfitted with a wood stove and no indoor plumbing, it was their attempt at a simpler life as empty nesters. They made daily trips to a well for water. Her husband had painted the outside of the home a robin’s egg blue to match the bright alpine skies.
“It was awesome,” Robinson, 61, said. “It was ‘Little House on the Prairie.’”
On their last day at the cabin, October 21, 2020, those skies darkened with wildfire smoke from the East Troublesome Fire. Twenty miles to the west, high winds shifted from a jog to a sprint. What followed was an unprecedented blow-up well past the end of Colorado’s traditional fire season.