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I-80 in Parleys Canyon reopened after closing due to wildfire

Posted at 6:56 AM, Aug 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-07 23:56:33-04

PARLEYS CANYON, Utah — Interstate 80 in Parleys Canyon has reopened after being closed in both directions Friday to allow crews to battle a wildfire there.

The portion of freeway from Foothill Drive to Parleys Summit was closed at 9 a.m. and expected to remain closed until 9 p.m. as firefighters needed access and helicopters were scooping water from Mountain Dell Reservoir and crossing the freeway.

State wildfire officials added that it could be closed again if fire activity picks back up. Exits 132 and 134 (Ranches and East Canyon) remain closed.

Little Dell Recreation Area and its parking lot will remain closed through Sunday night.

The fire is human-caused but it is still under investigation.

The 80-acre “Parleys Fire" broke out around 6:00 p.m. Thursday and residents in the Mount Aire area were told to leave their homes.

The fire moved very quickly in dry, dense vegetation, and firefighters say strong winds fed the fire and it has burned around 200 acres and is zero percent contained.

The Mount Aire community has about 500 residents.

The reason a quick evacuation was called is that the community is in a box canyon.

That means there is one way in and one way out, and if the fire were to block the road, the only other way out is to hike.

"I was just coming home and I had about 10 phone calls that there was a fire,” said evacuee Jerry Brown.

"It`s nerve wracking, said evacuee Terry Schmitt. “But this is something that we have prepared for many, many years and been concerned about."

The wind has pushed the fire north away from the Mount Aire community, but evacuation orders remain in effect.

While I-80 is closed, motorists are encouraged to use highway 189 through Provo Canyon, or I-84 through Weber Canyon.