Family members say they are grieving two grandparents believed to have died in a bunker during the East Troublesome Fire in Colorado, KTLA sister station KDVR reports.

The couple, Lyle and Marylin Hileman, went to a cement bunker in their Grand County home when the fire started.

On Thursday night, the couple’s grandchildren released this statement:

“No official confirmation until fire crews are able to dig into the bunker, but we’re pretty sure they passed away early last night. The cement bunker may have kept them safe from the house collapsing and the flames, but not the1300 degree heat We’re deeply saddened by the loss of our grandparents, but comforted by the thought that at least they died together, just as they had wanted.”

Another grandchild shared a photo of the couple on Twitter, saying, “In loving memory of Lyle and Marylin Hileman. Your family loves you and misses you, and will go forward with the love, dedication, kindness, and strength you taught to us.”

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.”

Richard Cline, a friend of the couple, said he had been waiting to hear from the Hilemans after they decided to stay in the bunker under their home instead of evacuating. He drove through roadblocks to get to them but said the couple decided to stay behind. He said he spoke to Marylin Hileman about evacuating.

“I told her, ‘I am coming. Get ready.’ I made it through all the roadblocks. They all [law enforcement] let me go get them and they said no, they were going to stay,” said Cline. “She said ‘No, why don’t you go on and we’ll be alright’ and ‘talk at you tomorrow.’ And that’s the last word she told me.”

Cline said the Hilemans loved their home. Lyle Hileman was a retired firefighter.


By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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