200-acre fire jumps I-70 on West Slope | SummitDaily.com

200-acre fire jumps I-70 on West Slope

The Denver Post

Firefighters believe they’ve contained a 200-acre fire that late this morning jumped a 5-mile stretch of Interstate 70 between Fruita and Loma.

The fire is believed to have been sparked by a lightning strike at about 6 p.m. Sunday.

Fire crews from multiple agencies fought the blaze and were in the mopping up stages Sunday night.

But just before noon today, the fire reignited and jumped from the the north side of I-70 to the median, about a half-mile east of the Loma exit.

At one point today, the fire burned along a 5-mile stretch of I-70, closing some lanes, said Gene Towne, spokesman for the Colorado Transportation Management Center.

“It was mostly smoke,” said Towne.

Both eastbound and westbound lanes were closed

Other aircraft assisted in fighting the blaze. (Mesa County Sheriff’s Office)

at one point, but the lanes have since reopened.

Chief Frank Cavaliere of the Lower Valley Fire Department in Fruita said conditions on the Western Slope are hot and dry.

He said Sunday evening that temperatures before sundown were about 102 at the fire scene.

Today, they were in the upper 90s, he said.

Cavaliere, who spent both Sunday night and today at the fire, said he was drenched with sweat. “I’m soaked to the gills.”

He said the dry conditions have made it tough on firefighters.

“We are chasing fires all over the place,” Cavaliere said.

The wildland fire team from the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department and the Juniper Valley Fire team were fighting the blaze, along with a helicopter and slurry planes.

Also assisting were crews from the Bureau of Land Management, the Grand Junction Fire Department and the Lower Valley Fire Department.

A Wyoming hot shot crew was en route to bolster firefighting efforts.

No structures have been burned.

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