A windy Tuesday afternoon pushed the Grizzly Creek fire to more than 3,700 acres spanning both sides of Interstate 70 and the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon.
The hot, dry weather and the rugged terrain where the fire is burning have fueled its rapid growth since it started on Monday.
I-70 remains closed to accommodate firefighting efforts and because of rocks and other debris that have fallen on the highway. The Colorado Department of Transportation said there is no estimated time for reopening. Cottonwood Pass Road in Eagle and Garfield counties is also closed.
The residents of No Name, Lookout Mountain and Coulter Creek areas east of Glenwood Springs have been evacuated.
More than 200 people are battling the fire, along with two Very Large Air Tankers (VLAT), multiple Large Air Tankers, four heavy helicopters, and one medium helicopter. Crews are also working to protect structures, including the Shoshone Power Plant.
“We’re going to have heavy reliance on heavy aircrafts,” said Beau Kidd, part of the Rocky Mountain Blue Team of Operations. “Multiple heavy air tankers, some Type 1 helicopters to drop water on the fire in places we really don’t want to move rapidly.”
With the forecast Wednesday of hot and dry with winds increasing in the afternoon with gusts to 30 mph, officials expect “continued extreme fire behavior,” according to the federally run Incident Information System website.
CDOT also closed Highway 82 over Independence Pass on Wednesday afternoon because of heavy traffic and safety concerns. It's not an advised detour route while I-70 is closed, but "multiple vehicles towing trailers became stuck on the pass and forced closures on the road," according to a CDOT release.