Grizzly Creek Fire closes I-70 near Glenwood Springs, CO

UPDATED August 11, 2020 | 7:38 p.m. MDT

Grizzly Creek Fire pyrocumulus
Heavy duty pyrocumulus forming over the Grizzly Creek Fire, August 11, 2020. By Kyle Nelson.

Tuesday afternoon the Grizzly Creek fire was extremely active, spreading in almost all directions. It moved farther north deeper into the White River National Forest, spread east on the north side of Interstate 70, and spotted south across the Interstate and the Colorado River where it is now well established. The initial crossing of the river occurred on the southeast side of the fire northeast of Lookout Mountain.

(To see all articles about the Grizzly Creek Fire, including the most recent, click here.)

Most of the firefighting Tuesday was done from the air, since on the steep slopes and with the extreme fire behavior there was little firefighters on the ground could do to stop the spread.

Evacuations are in effect for Lookout Mountain, Coulter Creek, and the community of No Name.

Firefighters are conducting preparation work in the evacuated communities and Shone Power Plant, evaluating structures and helping create defensible space where practical.

Interstate 70 remains closed between Glenwood Springs and Gypsum.

UPDATED August 11, 2020 | 2:03 p.m. MDT

Map of the Grizzly Creek Fire
Map of the Grizzly Creek Fire at 12:30 p.m. MDT August 11, 2020.

At about 1 p.m. Tuesday the Garfield Sheriff’s Office ordered an evacuation of the No Name community which is between the Grizzly Creek Fire and Glenwood Springs, Colorado. The Glenwood Springs Community Center is the relocation point.

Fire officials said at 1:45 p.m Tuesday the fire has burned 1,832 acres, an increase of about 500 acres from a previous estimate.

Updated August 11, 2020 | 8:30 a.m. MDT

Map Grizzly Creek Fire
Map showing the approximate location of the Grizzly Creek Fire 2 miles east of Glenwood Springs, Colorado looking northeast at 2:36 am MDT August 11, 2020. Based on heat detected by a satellite.

At 9 p.m. MDT Monday fire officials estimated the Grizzly Creek Fire two air miles east of Glenwood Springs had burned about 1,300 acres.

When the fire was first reported in the Interstate 70 median at 1:29 p.m. Monday it was attacked along the highway by firefighters on the ground and from the air by two Very Large Air Tanker (DC-10s), five large air tankers, five helicopters, and two Single Engine Air Tankers. Most of the firefighting effort Monday afternoon took place from the air due to the rugged terrain and extreme fire behavior. The elevation on the fire ranges from 5,800′ on the Interstate to 8,500′ on the ridges.

Interstate 70 was closed Monday night in both directions and there is no estimate when it will open.

Six hand crews have been dispatched to the Grizzly Creek fire: Alpine Hotshots from Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, Blue Ridge Hotshots from the Coconino National Forest in Arizona, three 20-person Type 2 crews from Oregon, and one wildland fire module from California.

 Updated August 10, 2020 | 10:44 p.m. MDT

Grizzly Creek Fire Glenwood Springs Colorado
Grizzly Creek Fire, August 10, 2020. IMT photo.

Two Incident Management Teams have been ordered for the Grizzly Creek Fire on Interstate 70 two miles east of Glenwood Springs, Colorado. The Rocky Mountain Area Type 2 Blue Team with Incident Commander Michael Haydon will be the first of the two to assume command. A higher qualified Type 1 Rocky Basin Team led by Incident Commander Marty Adell has also been ordered to at some point take over from the Type 2 team. The Type 1 team will in-brief August 12 at 8 a.m. in Gypsum, Colorado. After a briefing, teams usually require a period of transition with the previous organization before they actually assume command.

It is not common to order both types of teams at the same time. Usually there is a progression from one to the other if a fire increases in size and complexity. This most likely indicates that the extreme fire behavior seen on the Grizzly Creek Fire and perhaps its proximity to structures led fire managers to believe it has the potential to become a very significant, complex incident.

The Colorado Department of Transportation announced that Interstate 70 will remain closed through Monday night.

Colorado DOT I-70 fire closed

When the fire started Monday afternoon a nearby weather station recorded a high temperature of 93 degrees, single-digit relative humidity, and 5 to 16 mph winds out of the southwest gusting at 20 to 30 mph — conditions very conducive to rapid fire spread.

Grizzly Creek Fire Glenwood Springs Colorado
Grizzly Creek Fire, August 10, 2020. IMT photo.

A spot weather forecast for the fire predicts for Monday night a maximum humidity of 37 to 42 percent and west winds 5 to 10 mph through 9 p.m., then becoming downslope/downvalley 3 to 6 mph overnight. For Tuesday, 90 degrees, 5 to 10 percent humidity, and downslope/downvalley 3 to 6 mph winds through mid-morning shifting to come out of the west at 10 to 15 mph with gusts to around 20 mph in the afternoon.

August 10, 2020 | 6:52 p.m. MDT

map Grizzly Creek Fire Glenwood Springs Colorado
Map showing heat detected on the Grizzly Creek Fire by a satellite at 2:18 p.m. MDT August 10, 2020. The locations are approximate.

A new wildfire in Colorado has forced the closure of Interstate 70. The Grizzly Creek Fire was reported in the early afternoon Monday. At 3 p.m. firefighting aircraft either on scene or en route included two Very Large Air Tanker (DC-10s), five large air tankers, five helicopters, and two Single Engine Air Tankers.

Grizzly Creek Fire near Glenwood Springs
Grizzly Creek Fire near Glenwood Springs, CO at 1:38 p.m. August 10, by Nathan Krause with Whitewater Rafting.

At 5 p.m. MDT the Rocky Mountain Coordination Centers said it had burned approximately 1,400 acres.

Some of the air tankers were reloading with retardant at a temporary portable air tanker base at the Colorado Springs Airport. A permanent base is slated for development at the airport which should be in service in 2021.

We will update this article as more information becomes available.

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please read the commenting rules before you post a comment.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

4 thoughts on “Grizzly Creek Fire closes I-70 near Glenwood Springs, CO”

        1. No problem. Sounds like they had a rough afternoon. Fire now at 3200 acres and spotted across the river and I-70 and is established on the south side now.


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