UPDATE: Fire officials are expecting I-80 to be closed for at least 12 hours Friday as crews continue fighting the blaze that began in Parleys Canyon on Thursday evening.
Authorities plan to close I-80 from the Foothill Drive/I-215 interchange to Parleys Summit from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. Friday, according to Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands spokesperson Kait Webb.
SALT LAKE CITY — An estimated 200-acre fire forced immediate evacuations and the closure of both east and westbound lanes of I-80 lanes in Parleys Canyon for several hours on Thursday evening. By 9:25 p.m., the interstate had reopened.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered for residents in the Mt. Aire area, officials with the Unified Fire Authority said. The Parley's Fire, as it has been named, threatened structures, and residents were advised to leave their homes immediately.
The blaze was sparked about 6:30 p.m. near milepost 133 and 134 along eastbound I-80, Unified fire officials reported. Eastbound lanes of I-80 were closed just before 7 p.m. near the mouth of the canyon and officials asked the public to avoid the area. Westbound lanes were closed at 7:30 p.m. Both directions reopened by 9:25 p.m., however the 132 and 134 off-ramps on the interstate remain closed for "public safety and fire operations," fire officials said.
I-80 will close in both directions at 9 a.m. on Friday to “support firefighting operations,” Unified fire officials said. Officials didn’t know how long the interstate would remain closed and advised drivers to plan an alternate route.
The fire was initially estimated at 10 acres but quickly grew to an estimated 40 acres by 7:10 p.m. State and local officials reported through Utah Fire Info that the fire had reached 200 acres by 8:40 p.m. Officials said it was expected to continue growing rapidly.
An evacuation center was set up at Skyline High School, 3251 E. 3760 South in Salt Lake City for evacuees in the fire and was slated to be open until midnight so long as no more evacuees needed it.
The cause of the blaze is under investigation, fire officials said.