Over the weekend, the Grizzly Creek Fire became the largest in the history of Colorado’s White River National Forest as far as acres burned.
As of Sunday morning, the fire had burned 20,665 acres of national forest out of a total burn area of 25,690 acres in just six days, according to U.S. Forest Service data. The additional acres are on Bureau of Land Management grounds or private property.
White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams said the Grizzly Creek Fire erupted so significantly because of hot, dry and windy conditions and because firefighting in the early stages was so difficult versus the steep, inaccessible terrain.
“Once it left the median of the highway, it was off to the races,” Fitzwilliams said Sunday. “There was no way to fight it.”
The fire started in the median of Interstate 70 on Monday afternoon, August 10, 2020, climbed the steep slopes to the north and later in the week jumped the Colorado River and made a run in the terrain to the south.
It’s ripped through terrain that was inaccessible to firefighters. Air tankers and helicopters dropped numerous loads of retardant and water but that only slowed the growth. The fire is now approaching fire lines on both sides of the river, but there is still potential for extensive growth in acreage, according to Fitzwilliams.
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Ed. note: If you’ve ever driven I-70 through iconic Glenwood Canyon west of Vail, CO, you know of the terrible loss of beautiful natural landscape the Grizzly Creek Fire represents. It is said to have burned the forest surrounding the incredibly gorgeous Hanging Lake, high above the canyon floor.