UPDATE: I-70 eastbound and one lane westbound reopened, as crews still work fire in South Canyon west of Glenwood | VailDaily.com

UPDATE: I-70 eastbound and one lane westbound reopened, as crews still work fire in South Canyon west of Glenwood

Post Independent Staff Report
Traffic backs up headed into South Canyon west of Glenwood Springs Wednesday afternoon. The interstate is closed in both directions through the canyon due to reported multiple fire incidents. Chelsea Self / Post Independent

UPDATE: As of 6:20 p.m., eastbound Interstate 70 at mile marker 109 (Canyon Creek) and one lane westbound had been reopened to traffic.

A wildfire in South Canyon temporarily closed Interstate 70 in both directions Wednesday afternoon west of Glenwood Springs.

But by 6:20 p.m., both eastbound lanes and one westbound lane was reopened to traffic even as fire crews continued to battle the blaze.

According to a Glenwood Springs Fire Department press release, the fire burning north of I-70 at mile-marker 111 was called in at 2:32 p.m.

“Upon arrival, about half an acre was burning with construction crews attempting to fight the fire,” the release stated. “The fire spread quickly, growing to approximately 15 acres in a short amount of time.”

Support Local Journalism

The fire was estimated to be 35 – 40 acres in size shortly before 4:45 p.m. The fire is burning in pinion and juniper on steep areas of land controlled by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, according to the release. 

There have been no injuries or loss of property reported at this time.

River enthusiasts are also being asked to stay out of the Colorado River in the fire area so that air support can continue.

Glenwood Springs Fire Department and Upper Colorado River Interagency are commanding the incident. Interagency will be taking command of the fire.

According to the release, two helicopters and a small engine air tanker are fighting this fire. Mutual aid from Carbondale & Rural Fire Protection District, Garfield County Sheriff and Colorado River Fire Rescue are also on scene.

Video by Chelsea Self/Post Independent

“We are grateful we were able to get a fast response to the fire,” Incident Commander Harlan Nimmo said. “We thank our neighboring fire agencies for their quick response. We know closing I-70 is an inconvenience and we appreciate everyone’s cooperation.”

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.

Updated information will be posted on Glenwood Springs Fire Department’s Facebook page.

Two separate notices were sent out by Garfield County Emergency Communications around the same time just after 3 p.m., pointing out the closure points on either side of the fire.

“It started as a very small fire on the north side of the freeway, but is growing in size,” Glenwood Springs Fire Chief Gary Tillotson said at around 3:30 p.m.

Idle traffic lines U.S. Highway 6 in West Glenwood on Wednesday evening. A fire closed Interstate 70 for several hours Wednesday.
Peter Baumann / Post Independent

Eastbound traffic was being turned around at the Canyon Creek exit and westbound traffic was being halted or turned around at the Dotsero exit east of Glenwood Canyon, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Stay off Cottonwood Pass

“Motorists traveling from the Roaring Fork Valley or Glenwood can access eastbound I-70 towards Glenwood Canyon and beyond,” CDOT spokesperson Elise Thatcher said. “Westbound traffic from Eagle County should not detour into Gypsum/Cottonwood Pass Road.

“Cottonwood Pass Road is not recommended or accessible due to paving operations on Valley Road, and utility work on Cottonwood Pass Road,” she said in a separate release.

Local Glenwood Springs westbound I-70 traffic is not allowed past the West Glenwood exit.

The Post Independent was live on the scene via Facebook:

This is a developing story, and will be updated as more information becomes available.

Support Local Journalism