Updated: 7:54 AM- The Milford Flat fire has grown beyond historic proportions.
By early today, the blaze had topped 300,000 acres, easily making it the largest wildfire ever in Utah and is rivaling some of the largest recent wildfires in the entire nation.
At 283,000 acres and growing as night fell Sunday, the southcentral Utah fire supplants a 250,000-acre inferno in cheat-grass 24 years ago near Dugway as the largest recorded blaze in state history, The Salt Lake Tribune archives show. This morning, fire spokeswoman Kathy Jo Pollock confirmed the fire has topped 300,000 acres and continues to grow.
She says the plan today is for crews to keep the fire burning to the west of Interstate 15, and to assess whether any structures in the fire area are in peril. About 500 fresh firefighters are expected to join the 100 on site today in fighting the blaze.
It isn't clear how that western Utah fire started in early July 1983, but reports indicate winds up to 50 mph - even more intense than the 40 mph winds in Milford Flat - fanned three fires into one that stretched from Dugway to the Great Salt Lake. A cold front stalled in Nevada and Idaho, tormenting 170 firefighters with lightning and hot, dry winds. Meanwhile, manpower was being diverted to more than 45,000 acres of lightning fires in Kelton, Farmington and Brigham City.
But the damage was minimal.
The 1983 fire destroyed no buildings, caused one traffic crash with no injuries, and a 10-mile stretch of I-80 closed for just six hours.
To compare, the Milford Flat fire has burned three buildings. Smoke and congestion caused a motorcycle wreck that killed two people Saturday on I-15 near Fillmore as frantic drivers tried to escape the fire.
About 40 miles of highway remained shut down most of the weekend.
As the fire spreads, it also takes its place next to some of the nation's worst wildfires. According to federal data, it is the 16th biggest fire in the past decade. Of the 15 fires that covered more acres, nine were in Alaska. The largest was the Taylor Complex fire of 2004, which burned 1.3 million acres.
- Erin Alberty
Major Utah fires
* Milford Flat: 283,000 acres near I-15 in Millard and Beaver counties, July 2007.
* Springfield: 250,000 acres near Dugway in Tooele County, July 1983.
* Leamington: 130,000 acres at Utah-Juab county line, August 1996.
* West Side: 68,000 acres near St. George in Washington County, June 2005.
* Railroad: 61,000 acres near Eureka in Juab County, July 1999.
* Oldroyd: 59,000 acres near Richfield in Sevier County, August 2000.
* Little Sahara: 48,000 acres near Eureka in Juab County, June 1996.
* Great Salt Lake Desert: 45,000 acres near Aragonite in Tooele County, August 2000.
* Neola North: 43,000 acres near Roosevelt in Uintah County, June 2007.
* West Side: 35,000 acres near Enterprise in Washington County, August 2004.
* Bulldog: 33,000 acres near Ticaboo in Garfield County, July 2003.
* South Twin Peaks: 28,000 acres near I-15 in Millard and Beaver counties, July 1996.