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Western Colorado Wildfires Grow In Warm Weather, Drought

Grizzly Creek Fire
Grizzly Creek Fire growing on the slopes south of the Colorado River on Aug. 12, 2020.

Fueled by drought conditions, wildfires burning in western Colorado continue to grow in warm, windy weather.

The Grizzly Creek Fire east of Glenwood Springs, which has shut down a 57-mile portion of Interstate 70 for four days, had grown to 7.2 square miles by Wednesday night. It's mostly spreading to the west into the No Name Creek drainage. If it crosses it, parts of Glenwood Springs north of I-70 would be put on pre-evacuation notice, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported.

Some homes east of Glenwood Springs have been evacuated.

Homes have also been evacuated by a wildfire that was started by lightning on July 31 north of Grand Junction. The Pine Gulch Fire had grown to 91.9 square miles and was 7% contained as of Thursday.

The closure of I-70 has forced drivers headed east or west across Colorado to take long detours around the interstate.

Colorado Department of Transportation
Interstate 70 detour routes suggested by the Colorado Department of Transportation.

In a statement about the suggested detour routes, the Colorado Department of Transportation said:

"Drivers should anticipate additional traffic on these routes. CDOT has paused some construction projects in order to accommodate detour traffic. However, travelers should be aware of possible construction impacts on US and state highways. CDOT recommends that through traffic on I-70 use a southern detour route, due to construction on commonly used northern alternate routes."

Colorado Highway 82 over Independence Pass near Aspen was closed Wednesday after heavy traffic on the sometimes narrow mountain road, which was not a recommended detour, created unsafe conditions. Multiple vehicles towing trailers became stuck on the pass, CDOT said.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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