Wildfires burn structures, shutdown freewayBy Pat Reavy
SALT LAKE CITY — Two maintenance shops owned by the Department of Natural Resources burned in a dangerous, wind-driven wildfire Tuesday afternoon.
But department managers say if not for the quick work of firefighters, it could have been much worse.
"I'm quite pleased, actually," said Bob Rosell, manager of the Great Salt Lake Marina. "We missed getting any boats damaged."
Rosell said damage to the shops was minimal, though he did not know when he could open them again.
The fire that damaged the shops was one of many Tuesday afternoon near the Salt Lake-Tooele county boarder. High winds created erratic flames and thick smoke, making for dangerous conditions for both firefighters and motorists.
Parts of I-80 and state routes 201 and 202 were closed Tuesday afternoon due to the wildfires and the smoke they were creating.
About 40 acres in the area between the three main roads had burned as of 2:30 p.m. All of the land that has burned was on Kennecott property, said Unified Fire Authority Capt. Clint Smith.
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As of 2:30 p.m., state routes 201 and 202 were completely closed near 13100 West. On I-80, eastbound traffic in the same area was shut down, while westbound traffic was being let through intermittently as the smoke cleared. Utah Department of Transportation officials said state Route 201 reopened about 4:30 p.m.
The fire started about 12:40 p.m. The cause of the fire was unknown Tuesday afternoon.
High winds quickly spread the fire to several places, all going several different directions, Smith said.
"The wind has made this very difficult for us," he said. "The conditions are very dangerous for firefighters. We're being very cautious. The fire is burning in multiple locations and directions."
The biggest problem the fire caused at the marina was knocking power out. With the tourist season just around the corner, Rosell said his biggest concern was getting power restored to the marina. As of Tuesday afternoon, he was unsure when that would happen.
About a half-dozen Department of Natural Resources rangers live in trailers in the area and were the first to report the fire, Rosell said. Many of them gathered at Saltair and watched nervously through binoculars at the fire's progression, he said.
Several structures were threatened by the fire, in addition to the marina, but only one other building, used by Kennecott for environmental monitoring, was damaged
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