The Grizzly Creek Fire in Glenwood Canyon has jumped I-70 and the Colorado River. I-70 has been closed. Traffic is being re-routed, with a lot of it going through Moffat and Routt Counties, on Hwy 40. Amtrak and Union Pacific trains are also not going through the Canyon and being re-routed through Wyoming.
Weather conditions are hot, dry, and windy which means extreme fire conditions. The Grizzly Creek Fire has burned over 6,500 6,251 acres at zero percent containment. Five helicopters and multiple air tankers are working the fire with 211 personnel.
Conditions are the same for the Pine Gulch Fire which has burned over 68,323 acres at seven percent containment. It is 18 miles north of Grand Junction in Mesa and Garfield Counties. 658 people are working the Pine Gulch Fire.
Both of these fires are bringing smoke and ash to Northwest Colorado and the Yampa Valley. Be aware of air conditions and advisories by going to www.PurpleAir.com
The air has not been good in Northwest Colorado because of the wildfires in neighboring counties. People have seen smoke, and ashes have been flying through the air. Here’s Moffat and Routt County Public Health Medical Officer Dr. Brian Harrington
Dr. Harrington says to avoid cardiovascular activities outside. People with pre-existing conditions need to be careful. Be aware of long-term exposure over multiple days. And masks that are well-sealed will help. You can check the air quality for Northwest Colorado at PurpleAir.com There is an air level monitor in Meeker and in Steamboat Springs, Rangely, and Oak Creek.
Moffat County has had a spike in COVID-19 cases. Moffat County Public Health is reporting six new cases of COVID-19 since Friday. One is a male in his 20s who tested out of state in late June, but those results have just been reported to Moffat County. The others are two female teenagers, and then three men, in their 20s, 60s, and 70s. Three of the people had reportedly been in close contact with each other. This does not include the Moffat County residents who are associated with the staff cases at The Haven Assisted Living Facility in Hayden. The number of tests administered in Moffat County now is 1,722.
Routt County has administered 6,736 tests, with 125 positive cases.
Grizzly Creek Fire in Glenwood Canyon. Photo courtesy Glenwood Springs Fire Dept.
Craig and Moffat County can expect heavier traffic than normal. That’s because I-70 is closed in Glenwood Canyon because of the Grizzly Creek Fire. It’s being re-routed north, to Highway 40. Glenwood Canyon was closed all night because Colorado Department of Transportation has to assess two bridges near the fire, and do rockfall mitigation. Over 1,300 acres have burned. Smoke from the Pine Gulch Fire north of Grand Junction is also floating our way. That fire has burned close to 30,000 acres. Link: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6942/
The Pine Gulch Fire continues to burn out of control north of Grand Junction and into Garfield County. It’s now at over 24,000 acres and seven percent contained. That’s why it’s smoky in the Yampa Valley. It started from lightning on July 31. An Air Quality Health Advisory was issued over the weekend for the wildfire smoke.
A Meeker man died Friday evening in Rio Blanco County Road 7, about 12 miles northwest of Meeker. 71-year-old Allen Maybury was on a 2020 Harley Davidson motorcycle when he went off the side of the road on a curve, and down an embankment. Maybury was wearing a helmet. Colorado State Patrol is investigating.
Another person has died from COVID-19 at the Haven Assisted Living Facility in Hayden. It’s owned and operated by Northwest Colorado Health. A resident who had tested positive there passed away on Aug. 6. This is the second death of a resident at The Haven because of COVID-19 There have been seven positive cases among residents there and four cases among the staff.
In Routt County, there have been 110 positive cases with eight deaths with 6,736 tests administered. The case count in Routt County remains at medium spread, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Moffat County is reporting 26 positive cases with two still active and one death.
The Moffat County Fair runs through the weekend. On Thursday afternoon in the Livestock Arena, 16-year-old Michael Voloshin won Grand Champion for Market Beef.
Ross, that big, black Grand Champion steer, weighed in at 1,371 pounds. Voloshin’s second steer named Playboy, won Grand Champion Reserve.
No high school football will be played at Moffat County High School this fall. Colorado High School Activities Association, or CHSAA, has come out with its sports and activities schedule for the upcoming school year, for the whole state. It has been rearranged to Seasons A, B, C, and D. Season A starts next week, with Cross Country and Boys Golf. Season B starts January 4, with basketball, girls swimming, and wrestling. Season C is girls volleyball, boys soccer, and football. Most start March 1, but football gets to start practicing in late February. The final season is Season D with the rest of the sports, most of which are typically played in spring. Here is the full schedule:
Three fires are now burning in North Moffat County. One fire is in Irish Canyon. About 82 acres have burned since Saturday when lightning hit. Four helicopters are working it along with 51 people. It’s about 20 percent contained. Mary Beth Pecotte is the Public Information Officer for the Bureau of Land Management. She says crews are working on improving the hand lines they’ve made. And they’re mopping up.
Irish Canyon is County Road 10 and it is open, but the campground there is closed. It’s the Incident Command Post.
The Pots Creek Fire is about 65 percent contained, burning 235 acres. It’s between Brown’s Park and Dinosaur, accessible through Vernal, Utah. It was also started by lightning.
A third fire is the Stateline fire, which also started Saturday on the far north boundary of Moffat County, along the Wyoming State Line. Grass and sage brush has burned 16.5 acres there.
Two fires are burning in north Moffat County. The Pot Creek Fire started Friday afternoon in the Dinosaur and Brown’s Park area. 235 acres have burned. 110 people are working the fire. A second fire started Saturday afternoon in Irish Canyon. 100 acres of pinyon and juniper in BLM land have burned and 30 people are working the fire.
School starts in Moffat County on Aug. 31. That’s a week later than originally scheduled. Teachers and staff report Aug. 17. The Moffat County School Board met last night to discuss the plan for re-opening the schools. There are a lot of logistics and details of which the district will be telling parents and students.
Elementary School students will go to school Monday through Friday. No masks.
Craig Middle School students will wear masks all day. And like the high school, one group will go Monday and Wednesday, and the other group will go Tuesday and Thursday. Then they’ll alternate on Fridays. High School Principal Sarah Hepworth says the students will still have school on their days off. They’ll just be at home.
Moffat County School District is having a special board meeting tonight. The discussion includes the proposed 2020 bond on the ballot, but the main part of the meeting will be to discuss the reopening of schools. The school board is scheduled to approve the reopening plan. The meeting starts at 6:30 tonight. It’s in the admin building at 600 Texas Ave. Seating is limited. There is a Zoom Link to the meeting (at Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/95727977854) and the last meeting was also on the Moffat County Proud Facebook page.
One resident of The Haven Assisted Living Facility in Hayden has died, of probable COVID-19. Lab tests are pending. Seven people have tested positive at The Haven. Four are residents and three are employees. Two of those employees are from Moffat County.