Wildfire Shuts Down Interstate for Second Time in Two Days, Local Business Reaping Benefits

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

It was another busy day for fire crews and law enforcement as a 200 acre wildfire burning near Fruita shut down I-70 for the second time in two days. While it may have created problems for drivers, one local business says it worked out great for them.

"Been having the planes fly over and last night they had a lot of slurry drops," said Marge Hood, Manager of the Fruita Co-op Convenience Store.

The staff at the Fruita Co-op says the past 24 hours have been somewhat of a spectacle. Just a few miles away from the store, a wildfire burning since Sunday flared back up, jumping parts of I-70 between Fruita and Loma.

Monday afternoon, helicopters dumping water and planes dropping slurry could be seen flying over the thick plumes of smoke.

"They're not going to let it get out of control," said Hood.

Officials say because of the fire danger and the equipment needed to battle the blaze, CDOT made the call to shut down I-70 in both directions between Fruita and Loma around noon. For nearly three hours after that, dozens of State Troopers, Fruita Police officers, and Mesa County Sheriff's deputies directed traffic around the fire onto Highway 6 -- right past the Fruita Co-op.

"Today has been really busy, last little while we've been really busy," said Hood. "A lot of campers, a lot of boats are going past here and they see the good price on the gas and they stop and fill up."

By 2:45pm, crews had the fire under wraps and traffic was allowed back onto I-70.

"We have very good firemen in this area and we're kind of used to them keeping it under control," said Hood.

Investigators say they believe lightning is to blame for starting the fire.

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