Amtrak, Union Pacific divert trains from Glenwood Springs while Grizzly Creek Fire rages in canyon | PostIndependent.com
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Amtrak, Union Pacific divert trains from Glenwood Springs while Grizzly Creek Fire rages in canyon

Smoke from the Grizzly Creek Fire billows in Glenwood Canyon after the fire jumped the Colorado River on the south side of Glenwood Canyon Tuesday afternoon, halting Amtrak traffic through the canyon.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

The Grizzly Creek Fire has forced Union Pacific to close its railroad tracks through Glenwood Springs, causing both UP and Amtrak to reroute freight and passenger trains.

“We have been impacted by the fire in what we would call our Glenwood Springs subdivision,” UP Spokesperson Kristen South said. “But, we’re hoping to have it open again by tomorrow.”

The tracks, which are owned by UP, were closed Tuesday after the Grizzly Creek Fire jumped the Colorado River, spreading southeast. South said UP works with the incident command in charge of wild fires to determine when tracks should be closed and can be reopened.

The blaze ignited Monday in the median of Interstate 70 near the Grizzly Creek recreation area and quickly became the top fire-fighting priority throughout the West, because of the extended closure of Colorado’s main east-west thoroughfare.

UP said that no freight trains were caught on the tracks at the time, but Amtrak reported the eastbound and westbound California Zephyr trains were diverted Tuesday just before the fire jumped the tracks.

“We had to turn back two trains (Tuesday) and reroute them through Rock Springs, Wyoming,” Amtrak spokesperson Marc Magliari said. “We’ve frozen ticket sales so we don’t have to do as much bus chartering as we might otherwise do.”

Amtrak trains are diverted at Salt Lake City, Utah, and Denver in order to connect with routes through Wyoming, he said.

Amtrak contacted ticket holders who had already scheduled trips through the area for Wednesday and Thursday and asked them to change their travel plans to a later date.

If the tracks are reopened Thursday, Magliari said the company would start selling tickets right away.

The Grizzly Creek Fire, as of early Wednesday, had scorched 3,700 acres with zero containment, closing I-70 between Glenwood Springs and Gypsum. About 200 firefighting personnel are currently battling the blaze.

Up-to-date fire stats can be found at http://www.postindependent.com.


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