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I-70 closed, more evacuations ordered as 3,351-acre brush fire burns in Glenwood Canyon

Residents of No Name and Lookout Mountain were told to evacuate Tuesday afternoon. There is no estimated time for I-70 to reopen.

GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo. — Interstate 70 remains closed in both directions through Glenwood Canyon Wednesday morning due to a wildfire burning in the area. 

The fire had grown to 3,351 acres as of 10 a.m. Wednesday and is 0% contained, fire officials said.

Residents in the communities of No Name and Lookout Mountain were told to evacuate Tuesday afternoon. Pre-evacuation notices were sent to people living in the Bair Ranch area. The Glenwood Springs Community Center has been established as a relocation point, according to a tweet from the Garfield County Sheriff's Office. 

Coulter Creek was ordered to evacuate from the Cottonwood Pass area Tuesday night. Cottonwood Pass is now closed. 

Fire officials said 211 personnel were assisting with the fire as well as two very large air tankers (VLAT), multiple large air tankers, four heavy helicopters and one medium helicopter.

I-70 has no estimated time of reopening as of Wednesday morning.

Grizzly Creek Fire in Glenwood Canyon

VIDEO: Driving through the Grizzly Creek Fire on eastbound Interstate 70 in the Glenwood Canyon. #GrizzlyCreekFire #120Fire (Video by Nathan Krause with @Whitewater Rafting, LLC). For updates on the fire: https://bit.ly/3iwFq7d

Posted by The Aspen Times on Monday, August 10, 2020

The fire was originally called the 120 Fire, but the name was changed to Grizzly Creek Fire shortly after it ignited Monday afternoon. 

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) said I-70 closures are at the following locations:

  • At Gypsum (Exit 140) for westbound I-70.
  • At Glenwood Springs (Exit 116) for eastbound I-70.

CDOT recommends the following detours: 

  • Travelers heading westbound on I-70 can use US 24, CO 91, or CO 9 to US 285 US 50 and continue west.
  • Motorists headed east on I-70 can travel on US 50 to travel east towards US 24, CO 91 or CO 9 to return to I-70 eastbound, or continue east on 285 to the Denver metro area.
  • Motorists can take a northern detour of CO 131 to US 40 to CO 139. (While CO 13 is open at this time, it is not a recommended detour due to construction, and oversize commercial vehicles are not allowed due to construction conditions on CO 13.)

Travelers are urged to avoid Cottonwood Pass as a detour, which was closed Tuesday morning due to a rolled over semi-truck. Even once that's cleaned up, officials CSP Eagle said in a tweet that it should be avoided as an alternative route.

CDOT said Cottonwood Pass (Eagle & Garfield counties) or Independence Pass should not be used as detour routes, as the roads are not built for heavy traffic or commercial oversize vehicles. Vehicles over 35 feet in length may not use Independence Pass at any time. This includes a vehicle and trailer that, together, exceed 35 feet.

CDOT said the safety closure is to allow specialists to assess two bridges located near where the Grizzly Creek Fire started, as well as increased rockfall hazard in Glenwood Canyon. 

Glenwood Springs Fire said smoke plumes can be seen from Rifle and Carbondale.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.  

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