DENVER — A wildfire that broke out between the Glenwood Canyon and Gypsum Saturday forced the closure of Interstate 70 in both directions and prompted authorities to issue evacuation notices to residents of Gypsum neighborhoods, but the interstate was reopened shortly after and all evacuation orders were downgraded to pre-evacuation on Sunday.
Both directions of the interstate reopened between the Glenwood Springs exit to the Wolcott exit just before 7:45 p.m. after it was closed around 5 p.m. due to the Duck Pond Fire, as it is being called. Colorado State Patrol said the interstate could close again if winds shift.
No structures have been lost in the 88-acre blaze but evacuation notices were issued to residents in the Willowstone neighborhood and others at the western end of Gypsum to Dotsero as winds pushed the fire slowly in an easterly direction toward the town.
Later that night, Eagle County authorities said due to favorable weather conditions evacuations were lifted for some parts of northwest Gypsum. On Sunday, the remaining 350 evacuees were allowed to return home after showing proof of residency to authorities. More than 1,800 people are in the pre-evacuation zone.
The Duck Pond Fire broke out south of the Colorado River around 2 p.m. Saturday. It's burning a lot of cottonwood trees in the area of the Duck Pond Open Space between Gypsum and Dotsero. Crews on Sunday reported 60% containment.
Fire crews responded, but authorities said the area was initially presenting challenging access issues since the fire was burning on the south side of the river. However, crews managed to gain access as at least 100 firefighters and 20 engines were on scene Saturday evening.
No injuries have been reported and investigators have determined the fire was human caused. No other details were provided on the origin or how the fire started.
The Colorado Department of Transportation is recommending motorists who need to travel on I-70 in either direction use the alternative northern route if the interstate is closed once again.
The northern alternate route includes at least a two-hour-long detour. Westbound traffic can exit at Silverthorne and travel north on Colorado 9 to U.S. 40, then west to Craig. From Craig, take Colorado 13 south to Rifle and back on I-70. Eastbound traffic will need to exit at Rifle and take the same route in the other direction.