Wildfire burning in Glenwood Canyon
A late-season wildfire between Glenwood Springs and No Name broke out Monday morning and had grown to 30 acres by late in the day. The fire began close to Interstate 70 just on the west side of the No Name Tunnels approximately one mile east of the city. The cause of the fire is under investigation, said U.S. Forest Service representative Kristi Ponozzo. Skies were clear Monday.The Cascade II Fire started around 9:30 a.m. about 100 yards off the Glenwood Canyon bike path, and burned uphill quickly into steep, rocky terrain. The fire was named for the Cascade Fire, which burned about 15 acres in approximately the same area in 2000, said Renee Brousseau, of the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Center.
Monday’s fire was burning in pion, juniper, grasses and oakbrush. Cascade Creek flows into the Colorado River just west of the No Name tunnels.As of 4 p.m. Monday, the fire was 20 percent contained, Brousseau said. Crews were building lines along the fire’s bottom and hoping to contain it to the Cascade Creek drainage.The Glenwood Springs Fire Department responded initially, as did the Upper Colorado agency, a cooperative effort of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service.Although the fire didn’t threaten any human-occupied structures, it was burning toward a private communications site on top of a ridge by mid-afternoon, Brousseau said.
A single-engine air tanker and heavy air tanker dropped fire retardant on the fire, and a helicopter made several water drops Monday. Exclamation Point restaurant and the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, both on Iron Mountain, evacuated voluntarily Monday morning, Ponozzo said, although the fire was not threatening structures there. Fire tankers were in position around the building for protection. The park is scheduled to be open today.The fire was burning in a westerly direction in the afternoon, and no mandatory evacuations were planned by the fire command, Brousseau said.
Ironically, an airplane and helicopter stationed at Garfield County Airport in Rifle at the Upper Colorado fire center were no longer there because “the fire season is over and their contract ended last week,” Brousseau said. However, that did not affect firefighting efforts, she added.Also called out to fight the fire were the Juniper Valley crew from the Rifle Correctional Center and the Roosevelt Hot Shots from Fort Collins. Gypsum, Eagle, Carbondale and Burning Mountains fire departments, the Glenwood Springs Police Department and the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office were also on hand to assist, Brousseau said.The Colorado Department of Transportation closed the bike and pedestrian path through Glenwood Canyon from the vapor caves in Glenwood Springs to No Name “for safety,” said CDOT spokeswoman Nancy Shanks. Transfer Trail was also closed, Brousseau said.Interstate 70 remained open. However, one lane of westbound I-70 is scheduled to be closed today because of possible falling rock. Fire officials are also concerned with smoke settling into Glenwood Springs, No Name and I-70, and want motorists to use caution while traveling through the area.
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Colorado’s Western Slope is considered a climate hot spot where temperatures are increasing faster than the global average. This warming has contributed to more than 20 years of dryness, which scientists are calling a megadrought.