Western Colorado fires grow in warm weather, drought

State

Interstate 70 still closed through fire area

Smoke billows from the Grizzly Creek Fire above No Name Canyon and on the south side of the Colorado River above Glenwood Canyon on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020, just outside of Glenwood Springs, Colo. The fire started 5 miles east of Glenwood Springs on Monday, when large flames in the highway’s median spread to the north of the highway. (Chelsea Self/Glenwood Springs Post Independent via AP)

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. — Wildfires burning in western Colorado continue to grow in warm, windy weather, fueled by drought conditions.

Tens of thousands of acres burned

The Pine Gulch Fire near Grand Junction is 68,323 acres with 7% containment, while the Grizzly Creek Fire east of Glenwood Springs is at 6,251 acres with no containment.

The Pine Gulch Fire was caused by lightning, according to fire officials. The cause of the Grizzly Creek fire has not yet been determined.

Firefighters say that if the Grizzly Creek Fire crosses No Name Creek, some homes in Glenwood Springs north of Interstate 70 would be told to be prepared to evacuate.  

Interstate 70, Independence Pass both closed

Interstate 70 is closed in both directions through Glenwood Canyon between Glenwood Springs and Gypsum (mile markers 116 to 140).

CDOT has also closed Highway 82 over Independence Pass between Buena Vista and Aspen. CDOT said too many drivers, including oversized vehicles, were using the tight, narrow pass as an alternate route, violating the length restrictions and causing closures and safety concerns.

Independence Pass will remain closed for as long as I-70 is closed, according to CDOT.

Drivers traveling between the Front Range and western Colorado are encouraged to use Highway 24, Highway 285, and Highway 50 as detours.

To get to Grand Junction:

  • From Colorado Springs: take Highway 24 to Highway 50.
  • From Denver and other points along Interstate 70:
    • Take Highway 285 to Highway 50, or
    • Take Highway 9 to Highway 285 to Highway 50, or
    • Take Highway 91 to Highway 24 to Highway 50, or
    • Take Highway 24 to Highway 285 to Highway 50.
Map courtesy CDOT

Haze visible across Colorado

Haze from the fires may be visible across the Front Range Thursday.

Hundreds of firefighters responding

Firefighters from Colorado Springs and Security are among the nearly 900 people fighting the two fires.

The Forest Service portable airtanker base at the Colorado Springs airport is also providing resources to fight the fire. The base is supporting two DC-10 very large airtankers that are capable of carrying 9,400 gallons of fire retardant. These two airtankers came from Idaho and Arizona to assist firefighters working the Grizzly Creek Fire.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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