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Unified Fire Authority

I-80 reopens as crews continue to fight Parleys Fire; 15% contained

By Jacob Klopfenstein, | Updated - Aug. 7, 2020 at 7:21 p.m. | Posted - Aug. 7, 2020 at 8:05 a.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Both directions of I-80 reopened Friday about 5 p.m. after being closed since 9 a.m. as crews continued fighting a wildfire that began in Parleys Canyon on Thursday evening.

The Parleys Fire, burning near the Mount Aire community east of Salt Lake City, was about 80 acres and 15% contained as of Friday evening, state and federal fire officials reported through Utah Fire Info. Authorities previously said the fire had been measured at 200 acres, but later said it was mapped at closer to 80 acres.

Authorities closed I-80 from the Foothill Drive/I-215 interchange to Parleys Summit on Friday morning as crews continue working to contain the fire and I-84 and U.S. Highway 189 were recommended as alternate routes. By 5 p.m. the interstate had reopened, but exits 132 and 134 remained closed as crews worked to fight the blaze.

Additionally, authorities said the interstate could close again if fire activity increases in the area.

Investigators have determined that the fire was human-caused, according to Webb. The investigation is ongoing, and Webb did not have further information on the cause.

Anyone who saw a large, dark brown dump truck that was dragging chains while traveling east on I-80 in Parleys Canyon on Thursday is asked to call authorities at 801-538-5418.

The evacuation order for the Mount Aire community was still in effect as of Friday evening and includes 250-300 households, Webb said. There have been no reports of structures destroyed or threatened.

Additionally, Little Dell Reservoir will be closed Saturday and Sunday incase firefighters need to utilize the water for suppression.

The evacuation center at Skyline High School has been closed, according to Unified Fire Authority. Anyone affected by the fire who still needs assistance is advised to call the Red Cross directly at 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-733-2767.

Authorities are closing the freeway to keep firefighters safe and provide ease of access to the fire area, Webb said. Aircraft are also flying directly over the highway, which can be a hazard for drivers.

Aircraft were able to drop fire retardant around nearly the entirety of the fire perimeter on Thursday, Webb said. There was minimal fire activity overnight with no new growth officials said.

The primary objective for crews Friday will be to protect structures near the fire and secure containment lines on the blaze, Webb said.

“There’s a lot of work left to do," she said.

The fire presents a challenge for firefighting crews because it is located in an area that is a mixture of wildland and urban infrastructure, Webb said. The road into the Mount Aire community is one way in each direction, so accessibility is a challenge, as well, she added.

There is also a gun range in the area and there may be hazardous ammunition located there, she said. There is no indication that the fire's cause is related to the gun range, Webb added.

As of Friday, three helicopters, six fire engines and several crews were assigned to the fire, Webb said.

This story will be updated throughout the day.

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