GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) - The Grizzly Creek Fire has now burned more than 3,700 acres, and for a third day Interstate 70 is closed through Glenwood Canyon. On Wednesday firefighters said they've had to adopt different approaches to how they're managing the fire's growth in different parts of the canyon, including on the southern side of the burn area where some evacuation orders have been put in place -- and to the east, where Hanging Lake isn't far off.
"One area of concern that we're very well aware of is the Hanging Lake area. The fire hasn't moved very far out to the east, but we're evaluating that drainage. That's a very important area to a lot of folks around here, so we're seeing what options we have to slow the fire spread out to the east in that direction," fire manager Beau Kidd from Rocky Mountain Blue Teams said Wednesday in a Facebook update.
Cottonwood Pass Road in Eagle County and Garfield County is closed and the following areas are under evacuation orders:
- No Name
- High Aspen Ranch (County Road 115)
- Coulter Creek
- County Road 120
- Cottonwood Pass
The fire, located east of Glenwood Springs, continues to burn in steep slopes of Glenwood Canyon and that has made the firefight very difficult to attack from the ground. Fire managers are relying heavily on aerial support. The fire is beginning to spread up and out of the canyon in places, though.
"We're looking at options for using heavy equipment as the fire comes out of the canyon country and into more favorable fuels and terrain, putting in an equipment line to remove some of the vegetation so that we can have a control feature out here as the fire continues to progress up to the north," said Kidd.
Authorities were working on Wednesday to protect homes in areas like No Name, should the fire creep close, and one team was focused solely on protecting the Shoshone Hydro Plant.
No structures have reportedly been lost and there have been no injuries.
Air quality issues will continue for a large segment of Colorado through at least Friday due to both the Grizzly Creek Fire and the Pine Gulch Fire near Grand Junction. Alerts are in effect for areas west of Vail and Rabbit Ears Passes including Routt, Rio Blanco, Garfield, Eagle, and Mesa Counties because of heavy smoke from the fires.
A CBS4 crew in downtown Glenwood Springs on Wednesday captured video that showed heavy smoke in the town and obscuring the view of the famous Glenwood Hot Springs Pool.
The I-70 closure is between Glenwood Springs and Gypsum (a 30 mile stretch). The eastbound lanes are closed at exit 116 and the westbound lanes are closed at exit 140.
A detour is set up that adds quite a bit of extra time to drivers heading east and west across Colorado. The Colorado Department of Transportation shared the following map on Tuesday afternoon of the detour:
CDOT shared the following notes about the detour:
Drivers should anticipate additional traffic on these routes. CDOT has paused some construction projects in order to accommodate detour traffic. However, travelers should be aware of possible construction impacts on US and state highways. CDOT recommends that through traffic on I-70 use a southern detour route, due to construction on commonly used northern alternate routes.
- WESTBOUND: Denver metro area motorists can travel on US 285 to US 50, and continue west to Grand Junction. Travelers on I-70 can use CO 9 to US 285 south to US 50, or use CO 91 southwest to US 24 to US 50.
- EASTBOUND: Motorists traveling from Grand Junction can use US 50 east to US 285 and continue to Denver. Motorists headed to areas west of Denver can also use the westbound detour in reverse.
For residents and businesses north of I-70, the following alternate routes are best:
- WESTBOUND: Motorists can connect to US 40 via CO 9 or CO 131. To continue to Grand Junction, take CO 139 south to I-70. CDOT advises commercial traffic to use CO 9 instead of CO 131, for safety purposes. Please note that while CO 13 is open at this time, it is not a recommended detour due to construction. Oversize commercial vehicles are not allowed on CO 13 due to construction.
-EASTBOUND: Near Fruita, motorists can travel north on CO 139 to US 40, then south on CO 131 or CO 9, returning to I-70. As stated above, CO 13 is not recommended due to construction.
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