GRAND COUNTY, Colo. (NewsNation Now) — Two grandparents died in the East Troublesome Fire after they allegedly went to a cement bunker in their home when the fire started, the Grand County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Friday night.
According to sheriff’s office officials, on Friday, they received a report of a couple who chose not to leave their home during evacuations on Wednesday.
On Friday afternoon, authorities located the bodies of Lyle and Marylin Hileman at their residence just outside Grand Lake. They were 86 and 84 years old.
Their family issued the following statement:
“Our parents, Lyle and Marylin Hileman, loved Grand Lake. Married at a young age, they honeymooned in the area in 1952. Years later, they would buy the property adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park. The property became a lifelong mission to create ‘Heaven on Earth’ to which family, friends and strangers, who quickly became friends, would be drawn. On Wednesday evening, several friends contacted them with offers of support in the evacuation. Their friend, Richard Kline, along with safety officials drove through road blocks in an effort to rescue the Hilemans. 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. In the spring of 2020 they sold the property to their son, Glen, with hopes of staying there as long as physically possible. On the evening of Oct. 21, they called Glen with news: ‘It happened.’ When pressed, they then shared the fire had began in the fields, barns and adjacent homes. They were calm, resolute and adamant they would not leave. They asked Glen to call his siblings and let them know that they were in their basement in an area they felt safe. Prior to hanging up the phone, Marilyn confirmed they smelled smoke. After contacting all of his siblings, Glen attempted to contact his parents again but there was no answer. It would be late Thursday before confirmation would come that the house was destroyed, but our family feels comfort in the knowledge our parents left this world together, and on their own terms. They leave a legacy of hard work and determination to overcome — something all of Grand County will need. Our family looks forward to continuing their legacy on the property and working shoulder-to-shoulder with our neighbors in rebuilding and restoring the sacred part of God’s world.”
According to one of the couple’s grandchildren, they were found in each other’s arms.
The grandchild also shared a photo of the couple’s home northwest of Grand Lake, Colorado, saying in the post that “the home is a total loss.”
Since starting on Oct. 14, the East Troublesome Fire has grown rapidly to approximately 188,000 acres, making it the second-largest wildfire in Colorado history after the still-burning Cameron Peak Fire.
NewsNation affiliate KDVR contributed to this report.