Fire in Edwards shuts down I-70 in both directions during rush hour Thursday
EDWARDS — A 4-acre wildfire closed Interstate 70 during rush hour Thursday night and drove home the region’s high fire danger.
According to Eagle River Fire Protection District Chief Karl Bauer, the first reports of a wildfire on the south side of Interstate 70 started rolling in at 5:11 p.m.
Forest Service firefighters said the blaze started downhill from the Interstate and worked its way up. It made it to the guardrail on the south side of I-70, scorched a few guardrail posts and moved east in the wind.
The fire did not jump I-70, as crews initially feared, which would have put it in the vicinity of Shaw Regional Cancer Center and residential neighborhoods.
Firefighters caught a break when the blaze broke out so late in the day as temperatures quickly cooled, helping firefighters working the scene.
Crews had the fire contained by around 7 p.m. Westbound I-70 traffic reopened around 7:10 p.m., according to the Colorado State Patrol.
Emergency crews confirmed the blaze at 5:26 p.m. Crews responded from the Eagle River Fire Protection District, the Vail Fire Department, the Greater Eagle Fire Protection District and the Gypsum Fire Department. Firefighters had no unusual trouble with the fire, but the backed-up traffic along I-70 caused some challenges.
Thursday’s fire came on the heels of the second red flag wildfire warning of the week for Eagle County. Local fire officials and the Grand Junction office with the National Weather Service on Wednesday issued the second warning of the week. The first was issued for Tuesday afternoon. Both were for portions of Eagle County lower than 9,000 feet.
“With the red flag warning and the wind, we’re not surprised that a spark would spread quickly,” said Tracy LeClair of the Eagle River Fire Protection District. “Luckily crews were able to be on the scene almost immediately.”
Bauer said after 8 p.m. Thursday that crews would stay on the scene for the next several hours to work hot spots and make sure nothing catches in the morning when temperatures begin to rise.
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The pass will be closed from 8:30 a.m. to 4:40 p.m. east of Aspen from mile marker 59 to marker 62 to all vehicles, bicyclists and hikers.