Communities being evacuated, I-70 in Glenwood Canyon remains closed as Grizzly Creek fire spreads to south
UPDATE 2:30 p.m. Tuesday — The Grizzly Creek Fire Incident Command has reported that the fire is moving uphill on the south side of the Colorado River. The command has expanded evacuation notices to include the residents of Lookout Mountain as well as a pre-evacuation of Bair Ranch.
UPDATE 1 p.m. Tuesday — The Grizzly Creek Fire Incident Command has directed an evacuation notice for the residents of No Name. The Glenwood Springs Community Center is the emergency relocation point and shelter at this time, according to the latest from the fire command.
UPDATE noon Tuesday — The Interstate 70 safety closure remains in effect until further notice to allow Colorado Department of Transportation crews to assess two bridges located near where the Grizzly Creek Fire started on Monday.
There is also now increased rockfall hazard in Glenwood Canyon.
“Both assessments are taking place today. Rockfall has been reported and is likely due to burned vegetation no longer holding rocks in place,” CDOT advised in a late morning press release.
Traffic is still advised to take detour routes to the south via U.S. 50, 24 and 285, and to the north via U.S. 40 and Colorado 139 or 13.
“CDOT has paused some construction projects to allow for detour traffic,” according to the release.
Stay off Cottonwood and Independence passes
Cottonwood Pass between Garfield and Eagle counties was closed Tuesday morning after a semi overturned around 3 a.m. when the driver attempted to navigate the steep, narrow, dirt road.
Eagle County Emergency Management Director Birch Barron advised county commissioners in a morning briefing that when Cottonwood Pass reopens only smaller vehicles capable of maneuvering the tight roadway should attempt the route.
“And you can expect some serious traffic,” he said.
CDOT says to avoid Cottonwood Pass altogether, except for local traffic only.
“CDOT asks that motorists not use Cottonwood Pass or Independence Pass as detour routes, as these roads are not built for heavy traffic or commercial oversize vehicles,” CDOT said in its latest release.
Vehicles over 35 feet in length, including semi-tractor trailers, are prohibited on Independence Pass at any time. The restriction also includes a vehicle and trailer that, together, exceed 35 feet, CDOT advises.
UPDATE 10:30 a.m. Tuesday — More than 120 firefighters are now working the Grizzly Creek Fire, with more resources on the way, according to the latest update from the Upper Colorado Interagency Fire Management command.
“Firefighters are working to keep the fire out of the No Name drainage as well as on the north side of the Colorado River,” according to the latest post. “Terrain is very rugged, limiting where we can safely put firefighters on the ground.
“Crews are focusing on point protection in the No Name area on the west side, including accessing structures and prepping areas should the fire reach the area.”
The No Name area remains on pre-evacuation notice, and residents are asked to be prepared to leave in the event the fire moves in that direction.
Firefighting crews are also working on point protection in the Shoshone area to the east of the fire. Aircraft continues to be work the fire from above.
Firefighters are scouting areas for containment lines on top in the Flattops, and evacuating campers and other recreationists from the Coffee Pot Road area and other areas in the Forest Service closure area north of the fire.
The fire is still reported to be at 1,300 acres, but a more accurate acreage estimate was expected after a morning mapping flight.
“We expect fire activity to increase as the day warms and the humidity drops,” according to the latest Facebook update.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon is to remain closed in both directions between Glenwood Springs and Gypsum until further notice due to the Grizzly Creek firefighting efforts.
“We will have more information after morning briefings. We do not have an estimated time for reopening,” according to a Tuesday morning post to the official incident Facebook page.
Regular fire updates will be posted there, and the latest on the I-70 closures and suggested alternate routes can be found at cotrip.org.
The Colorado Department of Transportation advises that the backcountry Cottonwood Pass dirt road is not to be used as a bypass. The I-70 closure is also intended to allow for inspection of the elevated westbound section where the fire burned, and to check for rockfall hazards within the fire area.
“The fire was active last night,” the latest post announced. “The community of No Name is under pre-evacuation, which means residents should be ready to evacuate.”
The fire started at about 1:30 p.m. Monday in the median between the eastbound and the elevated westbound lanes near the Grizzly Creek rest area and hiking trail, five miles east of Glenwood Springs. It involved about 60 firefighters and numerous aircraft.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
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