Saturday Grizzly Creek Fire updates: Fire nears 20,000 acres; winds shift Saturday pushing more smoke into Roaring Fork Valley
The Grizzly Creek Fire spread to 19,440 acres overnight and went back under Interstate 70, according to the U.S. Forest Service updates Saturday.
In an update at 4:30 p.m., officials posted the Grizzly Creek Fire Facebook page that the fire remained active Saturday afternoon “with fire spread primarily to the east and south, being pushed by moderate winds. Heavy smoke is present throughout the area as the fire is consuming unburned fuels along its advancing front.”
Favorable winds on Friday helped with maintaining fire lines in the No Name drainage, where the fire stayed low, while containment efforts on the southeast side helped prevent an eastern spread.
There are more than 550 personnel working on the wildfire.
“Last night the fire became very active west of Bair Ranch and backed under the I-70,” the USFS update Saturday morning states. “Today’s fire weather will be a repeat of yesterday, hot and dry with moderate winds. Firefighting efforts will include structure protection in the areas of Spring Valley, High Aspen and Lookout Mountain, and continue structure protection efforts in the I-70 corridor from No Name to Shoshone Power Station, Bair Ranch and Dostsero. Dozers will assist crews with line construction.”
Interstate 70 has been closed since the fire started Monday afternoon on the median near the Grizzly Creek rest area. The governor said Friday the best-case scenario would be two to three days, but the road will remain closed for a least a day after the flames are no longer near the interstate, he said.
Independence Pass re-opened late Friday to limited vehicle access, and Colorado Department of Transportation and local law enforcement will be monitoring traffic at gates on both sides of the pass on Highway 82.
The winds have shifted and are coming more from the north, officials said in an update Saturday morning. That is causing even more smoke and ash to push into the Roaring Fork Valley.
A air quality warning has been issued for most of western Colorado and the mountain areas, according to the National Weather Service. It is in effect until at least 9 a.m. Sunday.
The NWS advises: “If smoke is thick or becomes thick in your neighborhood you may want to remain indoors. This is especially true for those with heart disease, respiratory illnesses, the very young, and the elderly. Consider limiting outdoor activity when moderate to heavy smoke is present. Consider relocating temporarily if smoke is present indoors and is making you ill. If visibility is less than 5 miles in smoke in your neighborhood, smoke has reached levels that are unhealthy.”
According to the Interagency Wildland Fire Air Quality Response Program forecast posted Saturday, the smoke from the Grizzly Creek wildfire is “settling into the gorge at night, and as the day heats up, it is slowly rising and moving into the Glenwood Springs, Gypsum and Eagle communities. Expect worsening conditions during the day between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. In the early evenings, smoke can rise high in the atmosphere and will be moving in a southerly direction the next day or two.”
On Friday, the fire crossed into Eagle County, but Hanging Lake appears to be spared, officials said.
The winds were favorable (Friday) and fire lines held in No Name drainage as the fire stayed low in the canyon not spreading across the drainage,” the USFS said in its Saturday morning update. “On the southeast side, the fire made several runs, but airtankers and firefighters were able to prevent an eastern spread.”
This is a developing story that will be updated.
Members of the valley’s Jewish community gathered at the Albright Pavilion at Aspen Meadows Thursday for their second annual menorah lighting ceremony to celebrate and acknowledge the first day of Hanukkah.