Grizzly Fire stays put during Monday night rains

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
As of Aug. 30, more than 650 personnel remain on the scene of the Grizzly Creek Fire.
Grizzly Creek Fire Incident Command courtesy photo

Steady yet light rain overnight Monday was good for firefighting efforts on the Grizzly Creek Fire in Glenwood Canyon, and most importantly the ground held in the fragile burn scar area where the potential for debris flows will be an ongoing concern for some time.

“Mother Nature provided a helping hand Monday night with a steady rain that dropped two-tenths of an inch of rain over most of the fire area,” said Nathan Heinert, meteorologist for the Alaska Type 1 Incident Management Team that’s now in charge of the 23-day-old fire.

Fortunately, that rain wasn’t heavy enough to prompt any concerns about runoff or flash floods, Heinert said in a Tuesday update on firefighting operations.

Earlier in the day Monday, the fire containment line that crews have been busy building since before the Alaska team arrived also held during high afternoon winds.

As of Tuesday, the fire was 75% contained and had not grown in size since Monday morning, holding at 32,464 acres, Incident Commander Norm McDonald said in the daily update.

Monday saw strong afternoon wind gusts of as fast as 40 mph over parts of the fire, with the strongest winds between 8,000 and 11,000 feet.

“Winds at lower elevations and in valleys weren’t quite as strong,” he said. “A lot of the fire was protected, which is a good thing.” Sixty of the approximately 80 miles of fire perimeter are now contained, he said.

Work continued Tuesday to build a control line in the upper No Name and Grizzly Creek drainages northeast of Glenwood Springs.

Three hotshot crews worked Monday to build a hand line along the southwest of rim of Grizzly Creek, and fire managers were hoping to connect that line to No Name Creek on Tuesday to secure the northwest edge of the fire.

An unmanned aerial system (aka drone) was used to inspect the two drainages Monday.

“They looked really good,” Alaska IMT Operations Section Chief Karen Scholl said. “They weren’t showing much heat at all.”

There are now 589 personnel working on the fire, plus six dozers, six excavators and two choppers working to rehab lines in the areas of Coffee Pot Road, Bair Ranch, Red Canyon and No Name.

The fire began Aug. 10 in the median of Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon near the Grizzly Creek rest area. The Forest Service announced during a Facebook live community meeting Monday that the fire was human-caused. However, the specific cause remains under investigation.