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Grizzly Creek Fire UPDATES: Fire In Glenwood Canyon Closes I-70 And Cottonwood Pass

Friday, August 14 - 7:25 A.M. Officials said Friday that the Grizzly Creek Fire is currently mapped at 14,663 acres. New evacuations extended into western Eagle County last night, and included Coffee Pot Road and Sweetwater Road. Buck Point was also evacuted. Dotsero, in western Eagle County, is also under pre-evacuation orders.

The City of Glenwood Springs is not under pre-evacuation or evacuation orders, although it has declared a local disaster emergency due to the fires. The designation would allow them to tap into federal aid and assistance to combat the fires.

The Grizzly Creek Fire as of Friday, August 14. The fire is now mapped at 14,663 acres, and has prompted evacuations on the east side of Glenwood Canyon in western Eagle County.
Credit Grizzly Creek Fire

The US Forest Service also closed Eagle-Thomasville Road, also known as Crooked Creek Pass, and Forest Road 400 last night, citing a high volume of motorists looking to bypass I-70. Information about detours can be found on the Colorado Department of Transporation's website

Governor Jared Polis will be visiting Incident Command centers in Grand Junction (9:10 a.m.) and Eagle (8 a.m.) for the Grizzly Creek Fire, and the Pine Gulch Fire, which is burning near Grand Junction. That fire is now 69,135 acres and 7% contained.

8:30 P.M. Buck Point Drive, Bair Ranch, Sweetwater, and Coffee Pot Springs have been ordered to evacuate. Dotsero is on pre-evacuation notice, no orders for the City of Glenwood or Gypsum at this time. Currently the evacuation sites are the Glenwood Springs Community Center and The Gypsum Recreation Center. 

5:45 P.M. Emergency officials have published an interactive map that provides insight into the fire's spread. The map, published by Eagle County allows users to view evacuation areas and the fire's spread with color-coded sections indicating the intensity of heat.  

2:45 P.M. Independence Pass remains closed, and officials say it will stay shut as long as I-70 is closed due to restrictions from the Grizzly Creek Fire. Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said the pass and roads in Aspen are not designed to handle the volume that would be brought on by detouring traffic – which the Colorado Department of Transportation said could reach 50,000 cars per day.

“That’s a lot of volume for a two-lane narrow mountain road,” DiSalvo said in Thursday’s Pitkin County community meeting. “Even if it’s 20% of that, 10,000 cars a day is an unsustainable amount to come over the pass and travel through Main Street Aspen without causing a major impact on not only our city, but our county and emergency response.”

Traffic detouring over Independence Pass in the immediate wake of the I-70 closure led to multiple incidents with stuck tractor trailers. DiSalvo emphasized that even properly-sized passenger vehicles making their way over the pass would still be unsustainable due to traffic volume. 

DiSalvo said keeping the pass clear and open is also important in the event that rapidly changing fire conditions force emergency evacuations from upvalley communities.

“That fire may be headed our way,” DiSalvo said. “Right now it’s an unpredictable fire. Because of the winds and the inability to contain it. I think I would rather have Independence Pass left closed and reopened for emergency egress for Pitkin County if needed.”

Thursday, August 13 11:00 A.M. The Grizzly Creek Fire is currently 6,251 acres and 0% contained, according to the fire's incident management team. Firefighters, including hot shot crews, will focus their efforts on the No Name drainage Thursday. The fire reached the bottom of the drainage on Wednesday evening. 

Fire crews from Aspen's fire department were sent to the Grizzly Creek Fire in Glenwood Canyon. There are currently over 200 personnel, including hot shot crews, on scene from around the country.
Credit Aspen Fire Chief Rick Balentine

Firefighters continue structure protection efforts around Shoshone Power Plant, Lookout Mountain and the No Name subdivision. The firefighting effort now includes 238 people, six helicopters, 11 engines and one water tender. 

Today's weather conditions include more gusty winds and dry air. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. No pre-evacuation or evacuation orders have been issued in Glenwood Springs, but residents in north Glenwood Springs should be prepared for rapidly changing conditions that could lead to pre-evacuation notices. 

Thursday, August 13 9:20 A.M. The Grizzly Creek Fire is currently 6,250 acres. Fire officials plan to announce more detailed information, including updated containment, later Thursday morning. The Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team says crews cannot accept donations of food, beverages or masks. People who want to support firefighters or residents affected by the fire are encouraged to donate to their  local fire protection district, the Salvation Army, Red Cross, or the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

This map, updated as of Thursday morning, shows how the fire has spread on both sides of the Colorado River and now covers more than 6,000 acres.
Credit Grizzly Creek Fire

7:20 P.M. The Grizzly Creek Fire was mapped at 4,624 acres with 0% containment by Wednesday night. The fire's management is going from a Type 2 response to a Type 1 team, which is the highest level. Rugged terrain and extremely hot and dry conditions made efforts to contain the blaze difficult. Officials said the conditions are similar to that of 2018, which was another recent year with record wildfire fuel conditions.

At this time, the blaze has been kept within the No Name drainage area, and officials have not issued any evacuation or pre-evacuation notices for neighborhoods within the City of Glenwood Springs. Up to date evacuations and pre-evacuation orders can be found on the Garfield County Sheriff's page or garfieldcounty.net. Current road closures can be found on the Colorado Department of Transportation page or COTrip

The Grizzly Creek Fire is getting the top priority nationally for resources, officials noted, despite that there are many large fires burning across the west, including the Pine Gulch Fire, which was mapped at over 50,000 acres on Wednesday, August 12. 

Officials will be hosting another live stream discussion about Grizzly Creek Fire updates on the fire's Facebook page on Friday, August 14 at 6 p.m.

5:35 P.M. Garfield County will move to Stage 2 Fire Restrictions beginning Friday. The Garfield County Sheriff's Office and the seven Fire Districts in the county, along with the Bureau of Land Management and White River National Forest made the announcement Wednesday. 

2:30 P.M. Fire Managers will be holding a Facebook Live Conversation on the Grizzly Creek Fire page (@GrizzlyCreekFireCO) tonight at 6 p.m. The chat will be open for questions about the future of the fire. Garfield County Emergency Communications Authority has announced Glenwood Residents are restricted from watering lawns through tomorrow, August 13, due to water source capacity.

2 P.M. Independence Pass is closed "indefinitely" in both directions, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. With traffic detouring around the I-70 closure, the department reported trouble with overlength tractor trailers attempting to use the pass. CDOT recommends that detouring traffic use Highway 133 to the south and Highway 85. 

11:30 A.M. Officials expect the fire to be extremely active and fast-moving today. Hotshot crews in Division A will prepare structure protection with hose and sprinkler kits in the No Name area. Heavy helitankers and engines will be used in Division W to secure the Shoshone power plant in Glenwood Canyon. Crews in Division N are scouting the Coffee Pot Road and Flat Tops area to identify firefighting needs and opportunities for containment along the north end of the fire. Engines, heavy equipment, and hand crews in Division Z will be working in the Lookout Mountain area preparing structure protection. 

Wednesday, August 12 9:30 A.M. The fire is now at 3,702 acres. The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office has evacuated No Name, High Aspen Ranch (CR 115), Coulter Creek, CR 120 and Cottonwood pass as of last night, at the direction of Grizzly Creek Fire Incident Command. Today at 6 a.m. command of the fire was transferred to the Rocky Mountain Type 2 Incident Management Blue Team. Fire officials except continued hot and dry conditions, with winds increasing in the afternoon, gusting to 30 mph. Pitkin, Garfield and Eagle counties are under red flag warnings Wednesday between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. 

7:15 P.M. Evacuations from Coulter Creek in the Cottonwood Pass area have been ordered. Evacuees can go to the Glenwood Springs Community Center. Cottonwood Pass remains closed on both sides in Garfield and Eagle counties. 

7 P.M. The Grizzly Creek Fire is now burning 3,200 acres on both the north and south sides of of the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon near Mile Marker 32.  Tomorrow at 6 a.m. the Rocky Mountain Type 2 Incident Management Blue Team will take over the fire response. Incident Command said that hot, dry and windy conditions have created extreme fire conditions. Residents of No Name and Lookout Mountain have been evacuated, and Bair Ranch is under pre-evacuation orders. 

Cottonwood Pass Road and I-70 remain closed with no estimate for reopening. The blaze is 0% contained.

4:45 P.M. Pitkin County is now under Stage 2 fire restrictions, and Eagle County will enter intro Stage 2 restirctions on Friday, August 14. 

4:00 P.M. I-70 remains closed in both directions as the Grizzly Creek fire continues to burn through Glenwood Canyon. The Colorado Department of Transportation is asking drivers to avoid Cottonwood Pass or Independence Pass as detours. 

Yesterday, both routes saw unusually heavy traffic. Cottonwood Pass was closed after a tractor trailer rolled over, and overlength vehicles on Independence Pass contributed to traffic problems.  

An overturned tractor-trailer on Cattle Creek Road, near Cottonwood Pass, on Tuesday morning.
Credit Alicia Nolfi

CDOT asks that vehicles over 35 feet in length, including trucks with trailers that combine for over 35 feet, avoid using Independence Pass entirely. Even passenger cars should expect slowdowns. 

“I would anticipate delays, because there’s going to be a lot more people going that way,” said Elise Thatcher, CDOT spokeswoman. “So plan for it to not be as short a trip as it might be otherwise.”

Instead, CDOT recommends Eastbound travelers take a southern route, traveling on Highway 133 towards Delta and then East through Gunnison and on to the Front Range. That route would mean a seven-hour trip from Carbondale to Denver.

CDOT advises against a northern detour via Highway 13 near Rifle, because of road construction and a restriction on oversized vehicles. A full map of recommended detours can be found here

2:20 P.M. Officials said this afternoon that flames from the Grizzly Creek Fire in Glenwood Canyon had jumped to the south side of the Colorado River, and residents of Lookout Mountain are being evacuated. Bair Ranch is undr pre-evacuation orders. A heavy air attack is currently underway to battle the flames from above. The relocation point is Glenwood Springs Community Center.

1:45 P.M. Incident Command is now mapping the Grizzly Creek Fire in Glenwood Canyon at 1,832 acres. There is no word yet on containment, and no time estimate on I-70 reopening.

1 P.M. The community of No Name is being evacuated, according to the Grizzly Creek Fire Facebook page. Evacuees are being directed to the Glenwood Springs Community Center. I-70 is still closed in both directions.

10:30 A.M. More than 120 firefighters are currently working the Grizzly Creek Fire, with more support teams on the way. Firefighters are focusing on keeping the blaze out of the No Name drainage area, and are prepping structures and communities for evacuation if the fire expands to the west. Air support will continue to be used to fight the blaze from above. The fire is still mapped at 1,300 acres. Officials said they expect the fire to grow as warm temperatures and low humidity is in today's forecast.

Tuesday, August 11 - 8:45 A.M. Officials said the Grizzly Creek Fire was active overnight, and that the community of No Name is now under pre-evacuation orders. I-70 is still closed between exits 116 (Glenwood Springs) and 140 (Dotsero). The Forest Service has also closed Coffee Pot Road (near Dotsero), some areas of the Flattops and Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon.

8:45 P.M. Officials said that air attack on the Grizzly Creek Fire in Glenwood Canyon has concluded for the night, and will resume again in the morning. The fire is currently burning in rugged terrain north of I-70 in the No Name and Grizzly Creek drainage areas. The fire has been mapped at 1,300 acres. I-70 will remain closed overnight from Exit 116 (Glenwood Springs) to Exit 140 (Gypsum). No structures are threatened.

6:15 P.M. The Grizzly Creek Fire (formerly called the 120 Fire) is currently mapped at 1,300 acres with over 60 firefighters on site. The fire is burning in a rugged area north of I-70 near Mile Marker 120. A Temporary Flight Restriction is currently in place in the area to allow heavy air tankers and helicopters to fight the fire.

5:30 P.M. The Grizzly Creek Fire is now estimated at 1,300 acres. I-70 is still closed in both directions with no estimate for reopening. Updates about the fire can be found on InciWeb and on the fire's Facebook page.

3:45 P.M. Garfield County officials said there are currently no evacuation orders, and no structures are being threatened by what they are now calling the Grizzly Creek Fire in Glenwood Canyon. The highway is still closed in both directions; I-70 westbound is closed at Dotsero, and eastbound is closed at exit 114 in Glenwood Springs. Multiple heavy air tankers are on scene and en route fighting the fire, along with Glenwood Springs Fire Department.

Monday, August 10 - 2:30 P.M. Glenwood Springs Fire Department has revised its evacuations; No Name is not being evacuated.

A fire in Glenwood Canyon has closed I-70 both directions. The highway westbound is closed at Dotsero, and is closed at Exit 116 eastbound in Glenwood Springs. Air support is en route. Glenwood Springs Fire Department said that No Name and Bair Ranch have been evacuated.

A previous version of this page on August 12 reported the Grizzly Creek Fire was at 4,800 acres. That was not accurate. It has been corrected.