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Around 2 p.m. on Saturday, a vehicle “with a catalytic converter in poor working order” sparked a wildfire, which authorities designated the Parleys Canyon Fire. Interstate 80 was quickly shut down, stopping traffic in in both directions.
As the fire spread, a large and growing plume of smoke was visible across the Salt Lake Valley.
Early Saturday afternoon, the Summit County Sheriff’s Department recommended that Summit Park residents evacuate the area. Hikers and onlookers gathered in nearby canyons to watch as the fire spread and smoke filled the sky.
An unusually large air response was mobilized to fight and contain the fire, along with local, state and federal first responders on the ground.
Helicopters and airplanes made runs throughout the afternoon and into the evening.
Afternoon winds spread the fire — and occasionally cleared out enough smoke that the extent of the fire’s damage became visible for the first time.
Precise numbers varied depending on the source, but officials estimated that the Parleys Canyon Fire posed a threat to 2,000 structures (and power lines). Saturday’s mandatory evacuation orders applied to 6,000 to 8,000 homes.
By mid-evening, I-80 had reopened (at least partially) in both directions.
Red Cross volunteer Tina Spencer noticed the smoke from Holladay. She reached out to organizers with the Red Cross and, along with other volunteers, headed up Guardsman Pass to establish an emergency shelter for evacuees at Park City High School.
As night fell on Saturday, fire crews continued to combat on the ground and by air.
Sunday morning, U.S. Forest Service public information officer Sierra Hellstrom shared some good news: cooler temperatures had kept the fire from spreading overnight. And at least for now, the landscape itself was helping contain the blaze: the Parleys Canyon Fire was in a bowl “two ridges away” from I-80.
But the wind — which often picks up in the afternoon — could change everything.
Fire crews mobilized early to assess the situation, establish a perimeter and manage the response for a second day.
Officials also announced that Jordanelle State Park would be closed to the public on Sunday in case fire crews need to access the Jordanelle Reservoir as part of their response efforts.
The response on Sunday included 120 personnel and by 10 a.m. multiple helicopters had been mobilized to drop water on the fire.
The first aerial mapping of the blaze was completed early Sunday afternoon, confirming the fire covered 619 acres. While the fire is smaller than originally estimated on Saturday, it remained “at 0% containment” throughout most of the day Sunday.
At 8:35 p.m. Sunday night, Utah Fire Info — an official Twitter account that provides public information on wildfire incidents on behalf of multiple government agencies — stated that the Parleys Canyon Fire was 10% contained.
Efforts to fight the Parleys Canyon Fire are ongoing.