Wildfires continue to threaten California highways; I-70 in Colorado reopens

August 24, 2020

Tyson Fisher


After being closed for two weeks, Interstate 70 near Glenwood Canyon, Colo., is finally open again. However, two more highways in Colorado remain closed, while wildfires in California are shutting down numerous sections of highways.

Second largest wildfire in Colorado history shuts down highway

At 6 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 24, the Colorado Department of Transportation reopened I-70 from Gypsum to Glenwood Springs. That portion of the interstate was shut down on Aug. 10 due to the Grizzly Creek Fire. The wildfire is burning nearly 31,000 acres and is at only 33% containment.

Further west in Grand Junction, the Pine Gulch Fire is burning nearly 134,000 acres at 44% containment. Caused by lightning, the wildfire is currently the second largest in the state’s history. The largest wildfire in Colorado was the Hayman Fire in 2002. That fire burned nearly 138,000 acres in Pike National Forest, killing five firefighters, destroying more than 100 homes and 600 structures, and causing more than $40 million in damages.

Colorado Highway 139 (Douglas Pass) is shut down due to the Pine Gulch wildfire. The closure is north of Loma (Fruita/Grand Junction) and between mile marker 6 and mile marker 39. There is no anticipated time for reopening. In the meantime, CDOT recommends traveling on Colorado Highway 9 or Colorado Highway 131 to access U.S. Highway 40, or to travel in reverse from northwest Colorado to points south or the recommended detour around the I-70 closure. Commercial traffic is to use Colorado Highway 9 instead of Colorado Highway 131, for safety. While Colorado Highway 13 is open at this time, it is not a recommended detour due to construction. Oversize commercial vehicles cannot use Colorado Highway 13 due to construction restrictions.

Near the Wyoming border, the Cameron Peak Fire is burning 20,000 acres near Redfeather Lakes.

That wildfire is currently shutting down Colorado Highway 14 from west of Cameron Pass and Walden (mile marker 61) for eastbound traffic and at Rustic and County Road 69 (mile marker 91) for westbound traffic. CDOT recommends detouring north on U.S. Highway 287 or Interstate 25 to Laramie, Wyo., and then traveling on Wyoming Highway 230 to Walden, Colo.

CO 14 wildfire detour

For traffic updates, visit COtrip.org.

Dozens of wildfires burning in California

During what Cal Fire has called the August Lightning Siege of 2020, about three dozen wildfires are burning across the Golden State.

Consequently, portions of several highways are shut down due to wildfire activity. There are estimated times for reopening unless otherwise noted:

  • State Route 1 (both directions) from Route 116 to Fort Ross.
  • State Route 1 (southbound) from San Mateo/Santa Cruz County Line to Tunitas Creek (expected to end at 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 31).
  • State Route 1 (both directions) from Mission Street/Shaffer Road to San Mateo County Line.
  • State Route 1 (both directions) from Ragged Point Viaduct to Pfeiffer Burns State Park.
  • State Route 9 (both directions) from Junction Route 236 to San Mateo County Line.
  • State Route 35 (both directions) from San Mateo/Santa Clara County Line to Saratoga Gap (expected to end at 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 31).
  • State Route 35 (southbound) from SR 84 La Honda Road to San Mateo/Santa Clara County Line (expected to end at 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 31).
  • State Route 39 (both directions) from San Gabriel River Bridge to East Fork Road.
  • State Route 49 (both directions) from Route 120 to Penon Blanco Road.
  • State Route 70 (both directions) from La Porte Road to 1.2 miles west of Sloat Road.
  • State Route 84 (both directions) from Route 35 to Route 1.
  • State Route 116 from State Route 1 mile marker 12.2.
  • State Route 120 (both directions) from Jacksonville Road to Old Priest Grade.
  • State Route 121 (northbound) from Vichy Avenue to Route 128.
  • State Route 121 (southbound) from Route 128 to Wooden Valley.
  • State Route 128 (both directions) from Silverado Trail to Monticello.
  • State Route 130 (both directions) from Quimby Road to Santa Clara/Stan County Line.
  • State Route 236 (both directions) from Highway 9 in Boulder Creek to Highway 9 in Watermans.

Lightning strikes on Aug. 17 sparked hundreds of fires in Northern California, burning more than 1 million acres since.

California is under a state of emergency as the weather forecast reveals little relief for firefighting efforts.

For up-to-date closures, visit CalTrans’ QuickMap. Updates on California can be seen on Cal Fire’s Twitter page.

Although the Washington State Department of Transportation is not reporting any significant road closures due to wildfires, the state has temporarily waived IFTA and IRP requirements and 3-day trip permit requirements for vehicles based outside of Washington carrying supplies in response to the Washington wildfires. The waiver is in effect until Sept. 30.