WILDFIRES

Drivers Delayed After Interstate Closed By ‘Mile Marker 122’ Fire

Aug 22, 2019, 9:56 PM | Updated: Aug 23, 2019, 5:16 am

BEAVER, Utah – A wildfire forced a temporary shutdown of Interstate 15 in both directions just north of Beaver. Officials said the fire was sparked by a carnival trailer that rolled over. Several drivers were stuck behind fire lines.

The fire quickly burned 1,000 acres near the roadway Thursday. Northbound lanes were reopened around 4 p.m., with southbound lanes following about an hour later.

Drivers were stuck near Beaver on the south and the Cove Fort area on the north while firefighters worked to battle the blaze. Officials said the fire was 25% contained Thursday night.

“When I saw the smoke up ahead. it was huge,” said California resident Doug Brown. “(A) huge billow of smoke going up and I was thinking to myself, ‘I wonder if it was… close to the highway.’”

St. George resident Mike Dunlavy was driving to Tooele when authorities closed the road.

“I got my ice cream and then the freeway stopped,” he told KSL. “I’ve only got 188 miles to go. It may as well be a thousand miles.”

Firefighters worked fast, hoping to keep the fire on the west side of I-15, an area they said was full of juniper and pinion grass.

On the east side of the road, trees and equipment would have made the fire an even bigger problem.

“Crews are aggressively fighting this fire on the west end, making sure those communications towers are safe and protected,” said Kayli Yardley, spokesperson for the Fish Lake National Forest. “One little spark started this.”

That spark came off the bed of a semi-truck carrying a carnival ride that rolled over for some reason, igniting the flames that moved fast in windy conditions.

No homes were in the area and no evacuations were needed.

Even though this fire continued to burn, the situation looked better than it did earlier in the day. Several other fires also ignited central and southern Utah. Officials said it was a reminder of the dry conditions across the state.

“Your four-wheeler, your motorcycle, your exhaust just from your truck – it’s hot,” Yardley said. “Please don’t park in dry grass.”

Dunlavy said he was heading north for a family barbeque, but he figured he was going to be a little late.

“They’re a good family,” he said. “They might save me something.”

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Drivers Delayed After Interstate Closed By ‘Mile Marker 122’ Fire