1 year after the East Troublesome Fire, firefighters return to the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park


ESTES PARK, Colo. (KDVR) — A powerful message was sent from Estes Park this week on the one-year anniversary the town came so close to burning down. 

Firefighters gathered at the world-famous Stanley Hotel to remember how that became their home for days as they battled to save the community.  

The East Troublesome fire was a mile away from Estes Park and the images of smoke and fire in Estes Valley are unforgettable. The town was at risk of burning down.   

“It was flames and trees and huge balls of flames everywhere,” said Estes Valley Fire Protection District Volunteer Firefighter Megan Platz.  

The Cameron Peak Fire was also threatening.  

“I was just hoping the winds wouldn’t shift at that moment we were just constantly keeping our eyes peeled making sure the fire is not encroaching behind us so you don’t have to run away basically,” said Platz.  

Jon Landkamer, who is the Estes Valley Fire Protection District volunteer assistant chief was also on the front lines when the unexpected happened.  

“We saw some rocks come tumbling down the hill. I had to run on the side of the hill to get out of the way. That was an unexpected consequence of that fire and those rocks breaking loose,” said Landkamer.  

The entire town was evacuated, making Estes Park a ghost town.  

That’s when the Stanley Hotel, famous for its own ghosts, stepped in to help.  

“You think about the firefighters that are walking in the door that are hungry, cold missing meals, equipment and you just go forward,” said Stanley Hotel owner Joe Cullen.  

Five hundred firefighters stayed in the 200-room hotel. The Stanley’s parking lot was filled with fire trucks instead of cars belonging to guests staying at the hotel.  

“You don’t think about the hospitality and finance and all these kinds of things. You think you are there for a moment in time and this is a calling,” said Cullen.  

Cullen and 18 staff members volunteered to stay and help house the heroes that would save their town.  

Cullen called them back, to show appreciation, “letting everyone remember that we need to prepare and constantly be on the vigil and thank god we’ve got these firefighters here for us.” 

We are told the community has bounced back strong. Estes is now having one of its best tourist seasons.

People here things have been calm, but aware fire can always strike again.  

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