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Wildfire kills Colorado couple in their 80s who wouldn’t evacuate beloved home, sheriff says

Rebecca Powell
 
| Fort Collins Coloradoan

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Smoke towers into sky from massive East Troublesome Fire in Colorado

Aerial footage captured over the East Troublesome Fire in Colorado shows smoke billowing into the sky on Oct. 22.

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — A Colorado couple, age 86 and 84, who did not evacuate from their home as it was threatened by the East Troublesome Fire has died, the Grand County sheriff reported Friday night.

The bodies of Lyle and Marilyn Hildeman were recovered Friday from their burned residence. The fire is one of the two largest wildfires in Colorado history, both of which are still burning in the state.

In a video posted to Facebook, Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin described the events around the couple’s decision to stay with their home outside Grand Lake, which he said had been in their family for many years.

The couple chose to remain at their beloved home despite warnings about the danger, Schroetlin said.

Officials and a family friend drove through roadblocks Wednesday to rescue the couple, but the couple refused the offers of help, said a statement from the family, read by Schroetlin in the video: “All offers to leave were refused. At 86 and 84 years of age (their) only desire was to be together in the home they loved.”

Watch: Cameron Peak fire, largest wildfire in Colorado history, spreads across the state

Photos: Colorado wildfires force evacuations

The couple called their son Wednesday night to say the fire had arrived, according to the family.

“They were calm, resolute and adamant they would not leave,” the statement said. “They asked (their son) Glen to call his siblings and let them know they were in the basement, in an area they felt safe.” Before hanging up, they said they smelled smoke.

Later, family could not reach them.

“Our parents, Lyle and Marilyn Hileman, loved Grand Lake … The property became a lifelong mission to create heaven on Earth, to which family, friends and strangers who quickly became friends would be drawn,” the statement said. 

Contributing: Joel Shannon, USA TODAY. Follow Rebecca Powell on Twitter: @RebaPowell

Source: USA Today

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