Authorities say I-70 around Grizzly Creek Fire — now 30,000 acres — could open in a matter of 'days, not weeks'

Grizzly Creek Fire showing Ruby Mountain Hotshots_Aug. 21 2020
Posted at 1:38 PM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-22 15:48:29-04

(UPDATE, 1:45 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 22): Firefighters were able to bring the Grizzly Creek Fire to 22% containment as of Saturday morning, with 29,992 acres having already burned – no change from Friday afternoon’s acreage. Cottonwood Pass Rd. is expected to reopen to local passenger traffic on Sunday. Click here to read the latest.


GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. — The Grizzly Creek Fire, which has kept Interstate 70 closed between Glenwood Springs and Gypsum since Aug. 10, has burned almost 30,000 acres. Authorities said Thursday the interstate could open up in a matter of days.

The fire is burning on both the north and south sides of I-70.

Below is a progression map of the Grizzly Creek Fire:

Grizzly Creek Fire progression map_Aug. 20 2020

According to the Great Basin National Incident Management Team, firefighters were able to build and strengthen containment lines around the fire on Thursday. It grew to 29,992 acres by Friday morning.

Firefighters got a little relief on the east side on Thursday when storms brought precipitation to the Bair Ranch area. However, west of I-70, where the fire is the most active, conditions remained hot, dry and windy, the team reported. Fire officials continued structure protection efforts by Bair Ranch.

On the northwest side, crews almost finished a fire line along Transfer Trail to Windy Point. The fire continued to climb to the top of drainages to the northeast, so fire managers began planning how to contain the blaze on the plateau once it reached the canyon's north rim.

Crews along the fire's eastern edge held north-south fire lines to prevent the fire from moving farther east, the team said.

Friday's hot and dry weather is expected to bring more fire activity, the incident management team said.

The Grizzly Creek Fire shut down I-70 from Glenwood Springs to Gypsum Aug. 10, and the interstate has remained closed since then in that area.

The workaround for most drivers is U.S. 50 east to U.S. 285 for those coming east from Grand Junction, and CO 9 to U.S. 285 south to U.S. 50 for westbound drivers, or CO 91 to U.S. 24 to U.S. 50 westbound. Click here for the Denver7 traffic radar.

During a virtual news conference Thursday afternoon, Shoshana Lew, the CDOT executive director, said the department was "looking at days, not weeks" for the reopening of the interstate through the canyon as she urged travelers to not attempt to drive through the I-70 closure.

She warned that conditions could change in an instant depending on weather.

The Bureau of Land Management has closed recreational sites and boat ramps on the southern side of the Colorado River near Dotsero, including the Cottonwood Landing ramp, Lyons campground and ramp, and the Dotsero ramp.

Forest Service Road 400 is also closed after drivers mistook it as an optional other route and got stuck or crashed. Cottonwood Pass Road remains closed, as do Coffee Pot Road, Transfer Trail and Clinetop Mesa roads.

The Grizzly Creek Fire is one of four major fires currently burning in Colorado. Click here for more Denver7 coverage of the wildfires.