It’s impossible for them to leave, Glenn Hillman said.
There were waves of conflicting posts on social media groups in the neighborhoods about whether the couple had escaped the flames as the fire grew by 100,000 acres that night. The firefighters told the family that they tried to take a bulldozer home to reach them, but that they were blocked by fallen trees and flames. On Friday morning, family members said they had obtained confirmation from the local authorities that the Helmans house had been burned down.
“They never parted,” Glenn Hillman said. “I don’t think neither of them had an idea of leaving this world apart. They would have survived together or they wouldn’t have been. Either way, they would have done it together.”
Late Friday night, Sheriff Shrottlin confirmed their deaths.
Granddaughter, Stephanie Hillman, called her 86-year-old grandfather, a retired firefighter from Denver, as a clown who had climbed up before dawn to plow snow or build fences on the property he loved and spent nearly 50 years farming. She said her 84-year-old grandmother was a “wonderful woman” who worked in a mental health facility and kept an ever-growing collection of 40 candy jars for guests.
“It was heartbreaking,” said Stephanie Hillman.
Firefighters are now in a race with nature, in an effort to limit the spread of the fire and its losses as a winter regime is expected to move to the top of Colorado on Saturday night as the rainfall changes to heavy snow by Sunday. Sunday night temperatures in the Grand Lake area are expected to drop 7 degrees below, and meteorologists expect snow to reach one foot.
As firefighters now largely contained two fires that broke out last weekend, even a thick quilt of snow might not be enough to put out the fires, said Evan Derenzo, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boulder.
“It could be simmering there for a long time,” he said, recalling how the Cameron Peak Fire north of Rocky Mountain National Park survived a snowstorm in early September. “People were going out and digging under the ice and there was fire underneath. It was very scary, just waiting to come back.”