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Long-married couple who wouldn’t evacuate dies in Colo. wildfire

Published: Oct. 26, 2020 at 7:07 AM AKDT
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GRAND COUNTY, Colo. (KUSA/CNN) - Officials said a couple who chose to remain in their home as the East Troublesome fire exploded Wednesday night died.

“Grand Lake has had a special place in their heart going back to 1952,” said Glenn Hileman, son of Lyle and Marilyn Hileman. “They have never not been together. They’ve been together since they were teenagers. The idea of one of them leaving the other behind always terrified them.”

Lyle Hileman was 86 and a retired Denver firefighter. His wife Marilyn was 84.

They married when they were teenagers and honeymooned in Grand Lake in the 1950s, which is when they fell in love with the area.

For years they had worked to build their dream home in their favorite part of Colorado.

“It was Wednesday evening at 9:30. My mom called me. She was very calm and very reassuring. She said, it happened. I asked her what happened and then she said the fire that for years they had worried about with all the beetle kill up there had finally arrived,” Glenn Hileman said.

He tried to talk his parents into evacuating, but they wanted to stay together with their home. They tried riding out the wildfire in their concrete basement.

“They saw fireballs literally flying across the sky. She said horizontally the fireballs were flying across the meadow. She said the grass was on fire,” Glenn Hileman said. That was the last he heard from them.

They knew the worst had happened, but couldn’t know for sure until deputies were able to make their way to the burned home days later.

“Their entire life’s memories were created on this property, and they felt safe there,” Glenn Hileman said. Now the family remembers their parents, who died together in a place they loved.

Glenn Hileman said deputies who made their way to the house told him two trees on the property were untouched by the fire.

He says his parents planted those trees years ago and wanted their ashes spread there when they died.

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