GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. — The U.S. Forest Service reports Monday the Grizzly Creek fire has grown to an estimated 25,000 acres with zero percent containment. Air quality in Garfield County, and surrounding areas, remains an issue, and businesses that rely on the I-70 corridor through Glenwood Canyon are suffering.
“With both of the wildfires in the area, we have seen that the smoke tends to settle especially at night into the valleys in our area. So, within the town of Glenwood Springs and throughout the I-70 corridor along the river valley,” says Anna Cochran, a specialist with Garfield County Public Health.
The smoke rises during the day, slightly increasing visibility—but health experts say if visibility is less than 5 miles, that means the air could be dangerous, especially for sensitive groups like children, the elderly, and those with underlying health conditions.
It’s not just the air quality being harmed in Garfield County and towns like Glenwood Springs, but the economy too. A longtime business owner says with the pandemic and now the wildfires he’s taking a huge hit. “Our numbers since the canyon closed has significantly decreased by probably 80 percent down from last year,” says Steve Beckley, founder, and owner of both Glenwood Caverns and Iron Mountain Hot Springs.
“Between the two companies there are about 300 jobs, 300 employees we have working for us that it’s critical we keep that staff in place,” Steve Beckley adds.
The hot springs are still open—but basically vacant with low tourism in Glenwood Springs at the moment. The caverns remain closed due to its proximity to the Grizzly Creek Fire.
Beckley did say he hopes I-70 will reopen in time for Labor Day weekend, but that’s still an unknown at this point given the fire’s conditions.
Firefighters are also working diligently around the Glenwood Caverns—setting up structure protection should the fire get too close to that area.
The Pine Gulch and Grizzly Creek Fires have daily smoke reports online that are updated daily, see those smoke reports here.