UPDATE (Wednesday, Aug. 12, 10:30 a.m.): We have started a new story with updates from the fire from Wednesday. Click here for the latest.
GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo. — A brush fire named the Grizzly Creek Fire shut down Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon in western Colorado on Monday afternoon, officials said. The fire had grown to more than 3,200 acres by Tuesday night, and the interstate remained closed Wednesday morning.
The fire was active after midnight, and on Tuesday was expanding on its eastern, western, and northern flanks, according to White River National Forest spokesperson David Boyd.
Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) crews were using the highway closure Tuesday to assess two bridges near where the fire started, as well as assess the increased risk of rockfall through the canyon.
The community of No Name was under pre-evacuation notice on Tuesday morning, but was ordered to evacuate around 1 p.m. Residents were asked to move to the Glenwood Springs Community Center, located at 100 Wulfsohn Road. High Aspen Ranch/County Road 115, Coulter Creek, County Road 120 and Cottonwood Pass were evacuated Tuesday evening.
About 120 firefighters were working the fire Tuesday morning, though rugged terrain was limiting where crews could be put on the ground.
A pre-evacuation notice was issued for residents in Blair Ranch by 6:15 p.m.
Firefighters were working on point protection in the No Name area on the west side of the fire and the Shoshone area on the east side. Crews were also scouting areas for containment lines in the Flattops.
Boyd said firefighters would not be deployed on the slopes of the fire today and that crews would try to fight the fire from the air and with outer containment lines.
“Right now, there really isn’t any relief that’s looking positive with the weather,” Boyd said. “We will keep doing what we can, but [these are] very challenging conditions.”
Fire officials issued an evacuation notice for residents of Lookout Mountain just before 2:30 p.m. as the fire continue to move up the hill to the south. Evacuees are being told to go to the Glenwood Springs Community Center.
Lookout Mountain Evacuation & Pre Evacuation for Bair Ranch— GarCo Sheriff (@GarcoSheriffCO) August 11, 2020
The #GrizzlyCreekFire Incident Command has directed an evacuation notice for the residents of Lookout Mountain The GWS Community Center is the relocation point at this time. As Fire is moving up hill to the south pic.twitter.com/CdKLKO1lnG
Red flag warnings are in effect for the area from noon until 8 p.m. Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.
Boyd said Tuesday afternoon the fire was estimated as being 1,832 acres in size.
The highway was closed in both directions shortly before 2 p.m. Monday, but temporarily reopened the eastbound lanes at Exit 109 at 7 p.m. for local traffic only to access Glenwood Springs and the Roaring Fork Valley. Around 7:45 p.m., the Colorado Department of Transportation said that the highway would remain closed at Glenwood Canyon overnight as crews assess two bridges and rockfall hazards within the burn area.
Due to these hazards, CDOT said, travelers are encouraged to avoid using Cottonwood Pass as a detour.
The eastbound lanes of the highway were still closed at Exit 116 at Glenwood Springs and the westbound lanes were shut down at Exit 140 in Gypsum. By Tuesday evening, Gypsum officials announced Cottonwood Pass was also closed until further notice due to the blaze.
CDOT was recommending westbound travelers take U.S. 24 to U.S. 285 to Poncha Springs, where they can take U.S. 50 to Grand Junction. Eastbound travelers can take the same route, going from U.S. 50 to Poncha Springs and then U.S. 285 to U.S. 24.
Authorities initially said Monday the fire was 50 acres, but by 5 p.m. Monday, the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center said the fire was estimated at 1,400 acres in size. By Tuesday evening the fire had grown to 3,200 acres in size and remained at zero percent containment.