How CDOT plans to mitigate fires on the new I-70 project downtown

$5 million fire suppression system being installed
Posted at 4:44 PM, Jun 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-28 21:07:01-04

DENVER -- It's been almost a month since a diesel truck caught fire on I-25, but the fiery crash that shut down traffic for hours has a lot of people wondering what would happen if there's a similar fire on I-70 once the expansion is complete near Denver.

Several viewers reached out to Denver7 concerned about fire safety on the new stretch of I-70 where CDOT plans to take the highway 30 feet underground and put a cap on top, with 4 acres of green space from Brighton Boulevard to Chambers Road. 

CDOT said diesel fires, like the one on I-25, should never happen because trucks carrying hazardous materials aren't allowed to travel on this part of I-70. The truck that caught fire on I-25 was carrying 500 gallons of diesel fuel and 500 gallons of eight different types of oil. 

"Hazmat is not allowed on this stretch of 70. It isn't today, and it won't be in the future," said Rebecca White, a CDOT spokeswoman for the project.

Trucks carrying hazmat are supposed to take I-270 or I-225 around Denver.

"The types of really hot fires, which we saw with that diesel truck, wouldn't normally occur out here," explained White.

But there are other fire risks CDOT says it has been planning for from the start on the I-70 reconstruction project.

"We have a really state-of-the-art fire suppression system that will be built that's a heat detection [device]. It's got cameras and a sprinkler system," said White.

CDOT said the contractor hired to do the work will be required to install a $5 million automatic fire suppression system under the tunnel. The system is meant to control a fire for up to 30 minutes until firefighters can get there.

"We've got a system built in that will protect everyone," said White.

To learn more about the timeline of the I-70 East project click here.