The Grizzly Creek fire has closed I-70

Dillon Gross, Editor

Citizens of the Western Slope have become familiar with wild fire the last few weeks. The Grand Valley has been faced with two fires, the Pine Gulch and the Grizzly Creek fire. Both fires have been difficult to contain and have brought smoke and ash to the state, but the Grizzly Creek fire presents unique difficulties in containment.

The fire in Grizzly Creek has been in the Glenwood Canyon, a place notorious to I-70 travelers as a narrow, twisted canyon with a multi-level highway. While the highway can be considered a feat of highway engineering, it’s also integral to interstate commerce as it allows semi trucks and trains to pass through Colorado. 

On August 10th, the Grizzly Creek fire ignited. Although there is still speculation on how the fire started, the effects have been ravaging. I-70 has been closed for a 17 mile stretch, between Glenwood Springs and Gypsum due to the fire’s proximity to the highway. As of August 23rd, the fire is 30% contained, according to 9News. Firefighters are still struggling to contain the fire due to the steep, narrow, walls of Glenwood Canyon.

Since I-70’s closure, many travelers attempted to take the smaller Independence Pass as a detour, but the pass was bombarded with an abundance of both semi-trucks and passenger vehicles, and had to be closed completely on August 12th, according to 9News. Independence Pass was reopened on August 15th, but for passenger vehicles only. 

Semi-trucks have been advised to use an alternate route that goes through Montrose and over Monarch pass. Due to the constant changes and closures, interstate commerce has been interrupted. This has caused goods passing through Colorado to be slower, but with the containment level of the Grizzly Creek fire rising every day, the hopes of seeing I-70 open again soon is growing.