Start Date: 08/10/2020
Location: Glenwood Canyon
Fire Size: 32,464 acres
Total Personnel: 439
(EAGLE, Colo.) – As forecast, patches of the Grizzly Creek Fire perked up in the hotter, drier weather. Visible smoke popped up on both sides of Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon on Saturday, as unburned pockets of vegetation occasionally ignited, producing small columns of smoke that attracted firefighter and public attention.
The smoke prompted a few calls to the Grand Junction Interagency Wildland Fire Dispatch Center but the fretting was unwarranted. Most of the hot spots were well within the fire perimeter, surrounded by black and well inside the control line, posing no threat. Some spots are impossible for firefighters to reach and have been smoldering for days. Water drops from helicopters were used to douse flare-ups in these inaccessible areas.
Similar fire behavior and critical fire weather is expected today. Temperatures will climb into the mid 90s, relative humidities could drop into the single digits and 20-25 mph wind gusts are expected to blow out of the west. The forecast prompted the National Weather Service in Grand Junction to issue a Red Flag Warning on Monday from noon to 9 p.m.
Despite the hot, dry conditions the past few days, there has been little change in the fire perimeter. Fire size remains at 32,464 acres for the 7th day in a row and estimated containment is 83%.
The primary culprits putting up smoke on Saturday – and likely today, too – were the No Name Creek drainage on the north side of the highway near Mile 124 and the Ike Creek drainage south of the interstate near Mile 129. Interior smokes like these are expected to continue until a season-ending rain or snow event, which could be on the horizon early next week. Temperatures are forecast to drop dramatically on Tuesday and below freezing by Wednesday with a chance of rain mixed with snow.
Noting the extreme weather forecast, Deputy Incident Commander Tom Kurth with the Alaska Type 1 Incident Management Team said the strategy is “to hold fast as critical conditions prevail while anticipating the rapidly deteriorating conditions predicted on Tuesday.”
Repair of the 61 miles of dozer lines built early in the fire continues to chug along. Heavy equipment operators have completed 50 miles of repair, with 11 miles remaining. Today, they will turn their iron and attention to restoring the Transfer Trail Road on the north end of the fire, the last section of line needing repair.
Fire managers with the Alaska IMT continue prepping for a transition to a smaller Type 3 team. The number of personnel has dropped to 439. The tactical line-up is down to six crews, four helicopters and 28 engines and will continue to shrink.
Fire closure areas have been reduced by the White River National Forest and Colorado River Valley BLM office. Coffee Pot and Transfer Trail roads remain closed. Both closure orders and associated maps can be found here.
Interstate 70 remains open to two-way traffic. Go to cotrip.org for information on interstate closures.
A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) remains in place over the fire. Go to https://tfr.faa.gov for details.