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‘It was unreal’: Witnesses share perspective of fast-moving wildfire off I-15 just south of Utah-Arizona border

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Posted at 11:25 PM, Jul 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-14 01:31:56-04

MOHAVE COUNTY, Ariz. — In one of the last cars to pass through a section of the Virgin River Gorge on Monday night, Katie Woods watched the glow of the Lime Fire as her fiancé drove toward St. George.

“We weren’t being stopped, so we kept driving into the gorge, and I think they closed the road about five minutes after we went through,” said Woods, who is born and raised in southern Utah and was traveling from Las Vegas back to St. George. “It was definitely advisable to close the road for sure, but we were definitely lucky to get through without any injury or being stuck in a dangerous situation.”

The Arizona Department of Transportation closed Interstate 15 from late Monday evening to the early hours of Tuesday as firefighters worked to gain control of the Lime Fire.

“It was unreal because the fire had crept up the mountainside. It was above us, it was on the sides of us, it felt like we were in some sort of Armageddon landscape,” Woods said.

She shared a video of the flames on social media to let fellow Utahns know about the travel conditions.

“We were thinking that, you know, it’s dry here, there’s a drought, hopefully this doesn’t get to structures, because there are structures right outside the gorge on both sides," Woods said.

Erratic fire behavior gave firefighters a little bit of trouble upon initial attack and then again Tuesday morning. However, throughout the day, fire behavior and conditions began to cooperate with fire crews.

READ: Retired fire chief, pilot die in plane crash while battling Arizona wildfire

According to Bureau of Land Management, the Lime Fire was mapped at 2,063 acres. No structures were lost and the cause remains under investigation as of Tuesday night. Fire managers are reporting 35 percent containment.

“Such a beautiful stretch of road there through the gorge,” said Katie. “To see it in flames is surreal and sad, and it’s heartbreaking. Hopefully we can get some rain here soon to get it to be lush and green.”