Parleys Fire Forces I-80 Closure, Evacuation
The Parleys Fire started Thursday, Aug. 6 at 6:15 p.m. Officials believe it was sparked by a dump truck that was dragging chains eastbound on I-80. The fire has forced evacuations and highway closures in both directions. Though originally estimated at over 200 acres, mapping on Friday morning found that 80 acres are burning in Parleys Canyon.
A mandatory evacuation was ordered for the Mount Aire community, and structures were threatened in the area. An evacuation center was set up Thursday night at Skyline High School, but is now closed. Anyone who requires assistance can contact the Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS.
The Mountain Dell Golf Course, 16 miles east of downtown Salt Lake City, was closed Friday.
I-80 was closed in both directions Thursday night and again Friday morning to allow fire crews to work. The Utah Department of Transportation expects the stretch of highway from Foothill Drive and I-215 to Parleys Summit to reopen by 9 p.m. on Friday.
Alternate routes are Highway 189 through Provo Canyon and Highway 84 through Weber Canyon. Guardsman’s Pass is also now open, though semi-trucks are restricted from using it.
Semi trucks: Use US-89 Provo Canyon or I-84 Weber Canyon as alternate routes to I-80 during the #ParleysFire #RoadClosure. Semi trucks are restricted from Guardsman Pass #SR190 #SR224. I-80 est. opening time is 9pm. @UtahTrucking @UtahDOT @UDOTRegionTwo @SummitCountyUT https://t.co/AtDARB33Kk— UDOT Cottonwood Canyons (@UDOTcottonwoods) August 7, 2020
The fire will mean worse air quality for the Salt Lake Valley, as smoke begins to move westward from the canyon. The weekend forecast calls for orange conditions — unhealthy for sensitive groups.
During evening hours the air cools off more quickly at the upper end of a canyon. This cooling air becomes dense and sinks downstream. Thus, canyon winds normally flow down-canyon during the evening and nighttime hours.— Utah DEQ (@UtahDEQ) August 7, 2020
As of Aug. 2, three-quarters of this year’s 951 Utah wildfires have been caused by humans.
Fire officials are currently looking for a large dump truck they believe sparked the fire by dragging chains while driving eastbound up Parleys Canyon. They encourage anyone with information to call 801-538-5418.
The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for a large swath of the state from St. George across to Moab and up to Vernal. It’s in place through Friday night because of gusty winds, low humidity and critically dry fuel across the state. Dangerous fire conditions are expected. The NWS warns any fire starts could develop quickly.
It will be *slightly* cooler across northern Utah today, with high temperatures running near average. Meanwhile slightly above average temperatures continue across southern and eastern Utah, along with breezy and dry conditions resulting in critical fire weather conditions. #utwx pic.twitter.com/xIUIDr7k3A— NWS Salt Lake City (@NWSSaltLakeCity) August 7, 2020
Elaine Clark is News Director for KUER News. Follow her on Twitter @ElaineClarkDay