I-70 closed for hours after dynamite found

Photos by DEAN HUMPHREY/The Daily Sentinel—Interstate 70 traffic is rerouted along U.S. Highway 6 through Palisade on Wednesday afternoon as the Grand Junction Bomb Squad handled old dynamite found at a home near the freeway, below.

A call to the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office by a Palisade resident seeking assistance in disposing of an aging quantity of dynamite prompted the deployment of the local bomb squad and the closing of a stretch of Interstate 70 Wednesday.

Just before 1 p.m., the interstate was shut in both directions between the Palisade and Clifton exits, sending traffic along a long detour through the town.

According to Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman Tracy Trulove, the proximity of the home where the dynamite was to the highway — some 650 feet — as well as the loose-rock Bookcliffs nearby prompted the full closure out of an abundance of caution.

A blog post from the Mesa County Joint Information Center reported that Grand Junction Bomb Squad technicians were “utilizing methods that will hopefully minimize the chance of an explosion, however the possibility still exists that the dynamite could detonate. Should that happen, there is concern that rocks from the Bookcliffs could dislodge onto the interstate.”

That detonation never happened, according to Grand Junction Police Department spokeswoman Kate Porras.

Technicians did utilize a robot to deal with the estimated 20 to 25 pounds of old dynamite.

Porras further said that the dynamite possession in this case was not illegal because the explosives had been obtained many years ago.

“It’s actually not that uncommon for people who have obtained dynamite a long time ago to have it in their possession,” Porras said. “The bomb squad quite often goes out on these types of calls.”

The Grand Junction Bomb Squad responds to calls all across the region, she added, saying that they often respond to calls across western Colorado and eastern Utah.

The interstate was reopened to full traffic in both directions just before 2:45 p.m.

The address where the incident took place was 3872 G 7/10 Road in Palisade.


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