Aug. 24 Grizzly Creek Fire update: Residents near Lookout Mountain return; Cottonwood Pass open to normal use |

Aug. 24 Grizzly Creek Fire update: Residents near Lookout Mountain return; Cottonwood Pass open to normal use

Linemen work to repair and replace damaged electrical poles through Glenwood Canyon on Sunday. More than 40 poles were damaged by the Grizzly Creek Fire.
Peter Baumann / Post Independent

UPDATE 9:25 p.m. Monday — Cottonwood Pass between Gypsum and Cattle Creek in Garfield County has reopened without additional restrictions, effective Monday afternoon, according to Eagle County officials.

The reopening of the backcountry pass, which was shutdown due to excessive traffic and because it was in the path of fire at one point, is in conjunction with the reopening of Interstate 70 between Glenwood Springs and Gypsum earlier Monday morning.

I-70 was closed briefly Monday night as firefighters responded to reports of smoke in the canyon and near Cottonwood Pass, but they did not find a fire. Closing I-70 allows for helicopters to pull water from the river and fight the flare-up along I-70.

“As always, large vehicles should not travel through Cottonwood Pass,” the county’s press release states. 

Cottonwood Pass had been reopened on Sunday for critical, local passenger vehicle traffic only. “Nearly 250 requests were processed between Sunday and Monday morning for authorized use of the pass,” according to the county press release.

UPDATE 2:20 p.m. Monday — Residents in several areas to the south and southwest of the Grizzly Creek Fire area have been advised they can return to their homes, but remain on pre-evacuation alert, according to the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office.

The change from evacuation to pre-evacuation status affects residents in High Aspen, Spring Valley Ranch, Homestead Ranch, Coulter Meadows and the Lookout Mountain area, according to an afternoon press release.

“Area road closures remain in effect, with access for residents and fire traffic only,” the release states. “Fire crews and trucks will be moving in and out of the area on a regular basis.”

Motorists are advised to take it slow and use extra caution on local roads, and to limit travels as much as possible.

“This will allow firefighters to do their work as efficiently and safely as possible,” the release states. “Residents can also expect the smoke to continue, heavy at times, for the next several days.”

On Sunday afternoon, residents of the previously evacuated No Name neighborhood off Interstate 70 were allowed to return home. I-70 through Glenwood Canyon was reopened to traffic on Monday morning.

Remember your ‘P’s’ for pre-evacuation preparations

Residents under pre-evacuation notice should be prepared to gather up and be ready to leave with the following items:

  • People and pets
  • Papers, phone numbers, and important documents
  • Prescriptions, vitamins, and eyeglasses
  • Pictures and irreplaceable memorabilia
  • Personal Computers (information on hard drive and removable memory)
  • Plastic (credit cards, ATM cards) and cash

UPDATE 11 a.m. Monday — Fire activity is expected to increase today, but firefighters will focus on burnout operations in the Bair Ranch area.

The Grizzly Creek Fire started Aug. 10 and is now 30,719 acres in size.

Sunday’s hot, dry weather drove fire activity, with unburned areas in the fire perimeter continuing to smolder, an update from the Great Basin Incident Management Team on Monday.

“Fire was active in the morning in near Bair Ranch and crews conducted burnout operations to secure containment,” the release states. “Engines, heavy equipment, air resources and fire crews were utilized to achieve containment objectives on the west, south and east flanks of the fire. Existing control lines around the fire perimeter continued to hold. Firefighters began mop up operations in some portions of the fire.”

Grizzly Creek Fire map update for Aug. 24.

A Burn Area Emergency Response, or BAER, team will also continue its environmental assessment work — similar to work they did in the Hanging Lake area recently.

“In addition to mop-up operations, the BAER team will continue their assessment of the fire’s impact on natural resources,” the release states. “This assessment usually begins before a fire is contained and involves a series of immediate post-fire actions to be taken to repair damages, minimize soil erosion and mitigate impacts from fire suppression activities.”

Monday also saw the reopening of I-70, although Coffee Pot Road, Transfer Trail roads and areas of the Flattops remain closed.

Pine Gulch Fire

Despite strong winds over the past few days, Pine Gulch’s eastern edge has held.

“Nearly the entire eastern perimeter and part of the north is now considered contained,” an update Monday from the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team states. “Fire behavior is expected to be moderate today; however, passing storm cells have the potential for erratic winds, and this could increase fire behavior and cause growth in the north, west, and south.”

The Pine Gulch fire started July 31 and is now 133,783 acres in size — roughly 5,000 acres smaller than the largest record fire in Colorado history.

Monday’s weather should make for moderate fire activity, but storms could lead to strong winds.

“Fire behavior is expected to be moderate today,” the release states. “However, passing storm cells have the potential for erratic winds, and this could increase fire behavior and cause growth in the north, west, and south.”

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