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SALT LAKE CITY -- High winds blowing into northern Utah ahead of a storm have fanned fires and triggered road-closing dust storms. The biggest concern, however, is a three-alarm grass fire burning out of control near Salt Lake International Airport.
The fire is burning south of the airports west runway. Airport spokeswoman Barbara Gann says that runway was closed for a short time, but is now open to departing flights. No major delays have been reported.
The fire started at 4800 West and 700 South. It jumped Interstate 80 and went into airport property. But a short while ago, the wind shifted and the fire began burning back into itself
I-80 was closed in both directions from Bangerter Highway to Wright Brothers Drive, but has now been reopened.
"With the high winds that we've had coming through here, it quickly blew it to the north. [It] got right up against I-80, and we were trying to contain it there. However, the high winds were blowing heavy smoke with embers across the freeway," Salt Lake City Fire spokesman Mark Bednarik said. "We did shut down I-80 at that time to prevent any accidents that could occur. The fire able to jump I-80--jump first to the median and across--and has burned here next to the airport and burned up against one of the runways here on the golf course."
The fire is also burning near Wingpointe Golf Course. No major structures have been damaged, but a golf course restroom did go up in flames.
There's a big canal between the fire and the airport, and firefighters hope it will keep the fire from spreading.
As for the cause, that is still under investigation. Firefighters say they don't know exactly how it started; it's possible it could have been a downed power line from the wind or lightning.
The fire could continue to burn for another day or two, and investigators say they'll be out early Friday morning to try and determine a cause.