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Investigators Believe Arsonist Set Multiple Fires Along I-80

Sep 4, 2018, 7:40 PM | Updated: 9:34 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Fire investigators from several agencies have been searching for an arsonist who they said set six fires along Interstate 80 from Tooele County to Summit County.

The fires all started within a short time on Labor Day.

Officials were also looking at the possibility that several fires in Wyoming the same day were connected to the same arsonist.

(Photo courtesy Utah Fire Info on Twitter.)

The Tervels Fire in Summit County has already burned 600 acres of land east of Echo Reservoir, while people who live nearby are prepared to evacuate. It’s maddening to people with properties nearby that anybody could do something this destructive.

“People’s livelihoods are up here,“ said Chuck Hadley.

He owns a second home in the Echo Canyon Ranches, four miles from where the fire was burning. That’s where he was Monday when he heard about the fire.

“It’s unnerving” said Hadley. “What do you do? I mean, we’re two miles from the pavement where our place is.“

He pointed out that evacuating people and possessions can be complicated and dangerous, especially if people get blocked in by fire.

“It upsets me really bad to think that somebody could get joy or some sort of excitement on doing this,“ said Hadley.

Lisa Johnson has been coming up to the Echo Canyon Ranches for three decades and has friends who live in that area. She was watching the fire from the interstate after checking in with friends.

“It makes you mad, because they’re hurting the wilderness. They’re hurting things for our kids,” she said.

The fire quickly spread to 300 acres. Tuesday, it was nearly twice that size at 575 acres. A slight break let firefighters make progress. It was at 50 percent containment late Tuesday afternoon.

“This morning, we had cooler temperatures and relative humidity in the air. So, fire crews got on the line,” said Leean Fox with Utah Forestry, Fire and State Lands.

Officials said people in the Ranches still need to be ready to evacuate.

“We just hope that it stays pretty mild and that fire behavior stays pretty minimal,“ said Fox.

Jason Curry with Utah Forestry, Fire and State Lands said that based on evidence at the fires, witness information, and other factors, he was confident all six fires were connected. They will work with authorities in Wyoming to see if fires along the interstate there are also connected.

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Investigators Believe Arsonist Set Multiple Fires Along I-80