Jacob City Fire scorches Soldier Canyon as smoke chokes Salt Lake Valley, and ash falls

The Tooele County blaze is measured at about 2,100 acres

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Jacob City Fire south of Tooele fills the Salt Lake Valley with smoke on Saturday, July 9, 2022.

When white debris started falling at the USANA Amphitheater on Saturday, Stacey Clark didn’t realize it was ash. Then it started falling faster.

The Jacob City Fire ignited Saturday east of Stockton, but smoke and ash from the blaze drifted across the Salt Lake Valley later in the day as firefighters worked toward containment. The wildfire is estimated at about 2,100 acres and is scorching both sides of Soldier Canyon in Tooele County, according to Utah Fire Info.

Officials ordered evacuations for residents of the Middle Canyon area around 6:45 p.m. Saturday.

Erratic winds feeding the blaze also brought smoke from Millard County, where two wildfires that ignited Friday have burned a combined 8,456 acres. The smoke and debris in the air caused Salt Lake County’s air quality to skyrocket into unhealthy levels on Saturday, surpassing the heightened air quality index value from July 4, which was likely due to fireworks.

These erratic winds dropped ash on concertgoers like Clark, who was attending an REO Speedwagon, Styx and Loverboy show at the amphitheater Saturday night.

“We can’t see the fire, just a lot of smoke,” Clark said in a text message at about 7 p.m. Saturday. “The ash is more intense now than we first got here just after 5. We all look like we have dandruff!”

Salt Lake City Police wrote in a tweet that 911 dispatchers received increased calls to report the ash and smoke drifting through from the wildfires. Individuals should only call 911 if they see an active fire or emergency, the department stated.

“It started coming down a couple hours ago, we noticed it [while] we were outside on our porch,” said MacLean Wright, who lives in Sugarhouse. “It looked like a really soft snowfall, which was kind of a wild picture — kind of dystopian. You can probably smell it too, which is kind of wild.”

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) The view from Riverton as wildfire smoke enters the Salt Lake Valley on July 9, 2022.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) The view from Riverton as wildfire smoke enters the Salt Lake Valley on July 9, 2022.