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Gov. Polis declares state of disaster due to damage on I-70 caused by the Grizzly Creek Fire

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Posted at 8:08 PM, Sep 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-10 10:41:10-04

DENVER – Gov. Jared Polis has officially declared a state of emergency to repair damage on Interstate 70 caused by the Grizzly Creek Fire.

The governor signed an executive order Wednesday which will enable state agencies to coordinate resources for fire suppression, response, consequence management and recovery efforts as well as divert funds to help manage the costs of battling and repairing what has been lost in the blaze.

The order comes nearly a month after Polis verbally declared a disaster emergency for the area in Garfield and Eagle Counties.

Officials estimate the initial cost to repair damaged infrastructure on I-70, consisting mainly of the highway, bridges, fiber optic cable, signage and other CDOT assets, will be approximately $10 million.

In the order, Polis states, “Repair of the damaged portion of I-70 is necessary to reestablish the full capacity of the highway.

Among other things, the executive order calls for the transfer of $3,150,000 into the Disaster Emergency Fund from the Controlled Maintenance Trust Fund, as well as another $3,150,000 from the Disaster Emergency Fund for costs associated with suppression, response, and recovery from the Grizzly Creek and Red Canyon fires.

Additionally, the disaster emergency will allow CDOT to pursue federal transportation emergency funds, according to the order.

The governor on Wednesday also extended an executive order calling certain elements of the Colorado National Guard to remain in state active duty to help with helicopter search and rescue assistance and traffic control points on the four major wildfires burning across the state.

At the request of the State Emergency Operations Center, a Colorado Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk crew is on standby at the training site in Gypsum – just east of the Grizzly Creek Fire – for search and rescue capabilities and evacuating firefighters and residents.

The National Guard was also asked to provide up to 30 soldiers to establish 24-hour traffic control points in Larimer County to be sure people are not getting into restricted areas near the Cameron Peak Fire.

Last month, the governor’s office said the Colorado National Guard’s Mobile Testing and Training teams would also be able to provide COVID-19 testing support to wildland firefighters.