Colorado wildfires: I-70 could reopen in days; National Guard activated to support firefighters |

Transportation

Interstate 70, closed between Gypsum and Glenwood Springs since the Grizzly Creek fire broke out Aug. 10, could reopen within days, state highway officials said Friday.

Exactly when, though, hasn’t been determined. The Colorado Department of Transportation is still assessing the damage the nearly 30,000-acre wildfire caused to the roadway through Glenwood Canyon, spokesman Matt Inzeo said.

While the flames have moved on, the fire charred vegetation holding the walls of the canyon in place, allowing boulders and other debris to tumble onto the interstate damaging the roadway, CDOT said.

That could be exacerbated by heavy rains, further washing out the denuded slopes, Inzeo said.

The portion of the interstate that has been shut down for nearly two weeks is crowded with work crews and heavy equipment of all types as electrical poles are replaced and crews continue to clear debris, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Wayne Patterson.

“The good news is that corridor is looking more and more quiet as far as seeing flames from the highway,” Patterson said.

Containment Friday had risen to 11% Friday after a few storms passed through Thursday, bringing rain, which helped,mand winds, which didn’t, he said.

National Guard activated

Also Friday, Gov. Jared Polis activated the Colorado National Guard to provide support for firefighters battling four major wildfires on the Western Slope.

A Colorado Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopter and crew is on standby at the High-Altitude Army National Guard Training Site in Gypsum for search and rescue. The Black Hawk is equipped with a hoist that can evacuate firefighters and residents.

The state emergency operations also requested 30 soldiers for traffic control to assist the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office to restrict unauthorized access to the Cameron Peak fire area.

Pine Gulch fire

The second largest wildfire in state history grew slightly to 125,191 acres by Friday evening even as the nearly 900 firefighters aided by air support managed to increase containment to 17%.

The fire has been burning in sparsely populated areas north of Grand Junction since a lightning strike started in on July 31.

Heat, drought and wind have not let up since the start of the fire, with temperatures in the 90s and gusty winds daily. 

Despite its massive size, the fire has burned only one structure, an abandoned outbuilding.

Williams Fork fire

The fire in the Arapaho National Forest southwest of Fraser grew 831 acres to 10,288 acres Friday, but more favorable weather allowed firefighters to make some progress in extinguishing the human-caused blaze, the Forest Service said.

Cameron Peak fire

Evacuation map

The 16,602-acre Cameron Peak fire west of Fort Collins is still growing rapidly and poses a threat to the Poudre River, the city’s water supply, utilities officials said Friday.

The blaze remains zero percent contained.

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