FIRE UPDATES FOR SUNDAY: Glenwood Canyon ‘not safe right now,’ Forest chief says of I-70 reopening prospects |

FIRE UPDATES FOR SUNDAY: Glenwood Canyon ‘not safe right now,’ Forest chief says of I-70 reopening prospects

Damage to the guardrail is seen after boulders fell from the cliffs on Glenwood Canyon due to the Grizzly Creek Fire.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Fire Situation:

Grizzly Creek Fire – 25,690 acres

Start Date – Aug. 10

Location – Glenwood Canyon

Containment – 0%


Hand Crews – 15

Helicopters – 13

Engines – 32

Water Tenders – 7

Dozers – 4

Feller bunchers and other logging equipment

Total Personnel – 625




Twitter @fire_grizzly #GrizzlyCreekFire

Fire Information Line: (970) 930-1850

UPDATE 9 p.m. Sunday: Scott Fitzwilliams, White River National Forest Supervisor, addressed the burning question of the day during the Sunday evening Facebook live Grizzly Creek Fire community meeting — when might I-70 in Glenwood Canyon reopen?

Fitzwilliams said that the ultimate decision is up to the Colorado Department of Transportation and Colorado State Patrol, but that before they even get to that point, the fire teams have to be sure there is no active fire along the highway and has to clear any debris from the fire, like burned trees and rocks, that may be on the roadway — which could take awhile. As of Sunday, there was no estimated time for reopening.

“We all want it to open and we recognize this is a huge, huge impact to our communities, to the West Slope, to economies, to commerce, and it’s a really, really high priority,” Fitzwilliams said.

“Having been through that canyon quite a few times it’s not safe right now, there’s fire sometimes right up to the road, there are trees on fire right next to the road and there are firefighters and people moving up and down that need to do their jobs.”

Fitzwilliams also said the area immediately surrounding Hanging Lake still seems to be intact and that a Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team will start assessing the fire’s more long-term impact on forest resources like watersheds and wildlife this week.

UPDATE 7:30 p.m. Sunday: This evening’s video community meeting has a lot of good information about the status of the Grizzly Creek Fire.

Grizzly Creek Fire Community Meeting 8/16/2020

Grizzly Creek Fire Community Meeting 8/16/2020

Posted by Grizzly Creek Fire on Sunday, August 16, 2020

UPDATE 4:30 p.m. Sunday: Garfield County Public Health has issued new air quality information and resources.

New smoke outlook pages have been created for the Pine Gulch and Grizzly Creek fires that will be updated throughout the incident.

Air Advisory in Effect for Garfield County through Monday, Aug. 17. Air quality in Garfield County is projected to reach the ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups’.

Public Health Recommendations: If smoke is thick or becomes thick in your neighborhood you may want to remain indoors. This is especially true for those with heart disease, respiratory illnesses, the very young, and the elderly.  Consider limiting outdoor activity when moderate to heavy smoke is present.  Consider relocating temporarily if smoke is present indoors and is making you ill.  If visibility is less than 5 miles in smoke in your neighborhood, smoke has reached levels that are unhealthy.

Outlook: Areas of moderate to heavy smoke have been observed Sunday across portions of central and western Colorado due to the Pine Gulch and Grizzly Creek wildfires. Sunday afternoon saw wind at the fires out of a north to northwesterly direction. This could bring periods of moderate to heavy smoke for areas to the south and southeast of both wildfires, especially the Pine Gulch wildfire where the winds will be stronger. By late Sunday evening, smoke will begin to drain into lower lying areas surrounding both fires. This will bring longer duration, heavy smoke through early Monday morning to several drainages near the Pine Gulch wildfire including into the De Beque and Grand Junction areas. Meanwhile, heavy overnight smoke from the Grizzly Creek wildfire will impact locations along Interstate 70 in central and eastern Garfield County.


Grizzly Creek Fire Smoke Page

Pine Gulch Fire Smoke Page

Garfield County Air Monitoring Web page.

State Air Quality Health Advisory page.

Low-Cost, community-based PurpleAir sensors along the I-70 corridor.

About PurpleAir:

Low-cost sensors, such as PurpleAir, can be used as an indicator of elevated levels of particulates in the air and help by adding data coverage in areas where there are not permanent regulatory monitors.

Public Health advises setting the default to a “one day average” rather than “10-minute average” because being exposed to moderate to heavy smoke for a short term period may not have the same health impacts as being exposed for a full 24 hours. 

It is important to understand that these low-cost sensors are not considered accurate enough to be used in regulatory action. These sensors are not a reference method nor approved by EPA for compliance with federal air quality standards.

UPDATE 11:50 a.m. Sunday (official press release info):

Yesterday’s Activity: Skies were clear early in the day as the inversion lifted causing higher temperatures and a more active fire. By mid-afternoon the fire on the north flank made a run from Grizzly Creek to Coffee Pot Road. The fire did spot across the road, but firefighters were able to catch it as the fuel types transitioned from timber to sage. 

Spot fires from the previous night grew together and moved towards Bair Ranch. Dozer line around Bair Ranch and structure protection measures, were successful in holding back the fire resulting in no loss of structures. Fire on the southeast edge is holding just shy of Spruce ridge. Heavy smoke in late afternoon was due to the fire pushing between the Deadman canyon and Devil’s Hole Canyon. The fire has moved to the canyon rim and is holding. Activity in the No Name area was quiet as the containment lines held and crews worked to bring in water with hose lays and aerial water drops. 

Today’s Activity: Firefighters will continue implementing structure protection measures around the gondola at Adventure Park and will move north to Transfer Trail with heavy equipment building indirect line. Crews will work to keep fire south of Coffee Pot Road by constructing and reinforcing control lines. Crews will engage the fire where they safely can. Direct attack of the fire has been difficult due to the rugged and steep terrain. Firefighters will hold and improve line construction as fire comes out of deep canyons. At this time the fire is held up on Spruce Ridge, however, there are stringers of heavy timber that are concerning. Contingency line to the east will be implemented by heavy equipment. Today heavy air tankers will be shared with the Pine Gulch Fire.


Today's Operational Briefing with Jeff Surber, Operationns Section Chief for the Great Basin Type 1 Team.

Posted by Grizzly Creek Fire on Sunday, August 16, 2020

Daily operations video updates will be posted on the Grizzly Creek Fire Facebook page. There will also be another Facebook live community meeting at 6 p.m. Sunday for fire managers to provide updates and answer questions via the chat function.

Maps and other information will also be posted on inciweb.

Evacuations: Visit the Garfield County website and Eagle County, as well as on official FaceBook accounts. 

Area Closures: BLM recreation sites and boat ramps on the southern portion of the Colorado River Road (RD 301) near Dotsero, Colorado. Specifically, Cottonwood Landing boat ramp, Lyons campground and boat ramp, and Dotsero boat ramp. 

Fire Restrictions: Stage 2 Fire Restrictions are in place for all jurisdictions. 

Road Closures: I-70 continues to be closed between Glenwood Springs and Gypsum, with no estimated time for reopening. Forest Service Road 400, Eagle-Thomasville Road, is closed due to excessive traffic and accidents resulting from drivers attempting to use this primarily dirt road as an alternate to the I-70 closure. Cottonwood Pass Road in Garfield and Eagle counties. Coffee Pot Road, Transfer Trail and Clinetop Mesa roads and areas of the Flattops accessed by those roads are also closed, as well as many surrounding White River National Forest and BLM roads. For more information regarding road closures:

UPDATE 11 a.m. Sunday: Firefighters are continuing to implement structure protection measures around the gondola at the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park today, according to a morning update from Grizzly Creek Fire incident command.

That activity is to move north to Transfer Trail, involving heavy equipment building indirect line.

The fire grew to 25,690 acres on Saturday, burning mostly on the eastern and southeastern flanks.

“Crews will also work to keep the fire south of Coffee Pot Road by constructing and reinforcing control lines,” according to the latest update. “Crews will continue engaging the fire where they safely can. Direct attack has been difficult due to the rugged and steep terrain.

Here is the latest fire area map from fire officials:


Regular updates are available on Inciweb and at the Grizzly Creek Fire Facebook page.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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