Truckers’ trip just got a lot longer |

Truckers’ trip just got a lot longer

Heading west on Interstate 70 from Glenwood Springs late Saturday afternoon the sky turned to smoke and the sun to a distant red ball. Just beyond the West Glenwood exit, a flashing sign read “Caution, smoke on road.”

In South Canyon, where the fire started, flames lapped up along the I-70 guardrail above the banks of the Colorado River, creating an intense heat, even for passing motorists. Smoke and ash choked the lungs and limited visibility to about 100 feet. Dan Sparkman, of the Garfield County Sheriff’s Department, directed traffic at the westbound South Canyon exit. Toward the South Canyon landfill and along the railroad bed, flames as high as 50 feet jutted in the air.

Donna Bamer, of Houston, waited in the cab of her 18-wheeler, along with a half dozen other truckers, at the Tibbets pull-out just east of New Castle. She and her husband were heading east on I-70 and pulled over after hearing on their Citizen’s Band radio that they could get no farther east than Canyon Creek. She wasn’t so much inconvenienced by the wait as she was concerned for the safety of the citizens of Glenwood Springs, even though she doesn’t know anyone there.

“I just hope nobody gets hurt,” said Bamer as she watched the billowing smoke blend in with a cumulus cloud above Storm King Mountain.

Bamer picked up a message from another trucker, who had been turned back at Canyon Creek, that the interstate could be closed for up to 24 hours.

“We’ll probably head up Highway 13 and pick up (Interstate) 80,” said Bamer.

Ryan Mackley, of Rifle, and a couple of his friends were headed east to fish in Glenwood Canyon when they were turned back at Canyon Creek.

“We figure we’d fish while the world burns,” said Mackley, pulling his fishing gear from his truck.

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