Tooele County's Redlam fire has grown into the biggest wildfire in Utah this season since its start Sunday afternoon, but it is expected to be contained Wednesday about 6 p.m.
The fire, at 33,000 acres, threatened to close I-80 about 55 miles west of Salt Lake City about 11 a.m. Tuesday. Several hours later, a much smaller fire all but closed northbound lanes of I-15 in Salt Lake County near 8000 South as firefighters from Sandy and Midvale doused a grass fire along the northbound lanes.Northbound traffic on I-15 was squeezed into one lane for almost an hour while firetrucks and firefighters worked along the freeway.
Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Vi Hillman said crews did close one eastbound lane of I-80 temporarily as the Redlam fire burned along the north shoulder of the freeway. The freeway served as a firebreak on the blaze's north flank.
Officials believe the Redlam fire is human-caused and are offering a reward for information about the fire's cause. "We are offering a $5,000 reward because the area is a wilderness study area and a (wild) horse habitat, it's a real high priority on our district," Hillman said. "We always offer $1,000 if we feel a fire is human-caused. I don't recall it ever being increased to $5,000 before, so this is a big deal."
Glade Anderson, the BLM's state wild horse program leader, toured the fire area Tuesday to see what effects the blaze will have on the approximately 450 wild horses that roam the tops of the Cedar Mountains.
"We saw some horses, and they were watching the fire," he said. "The fire could actually help if you get a lot of grasses coming back."
His biggest concern is the potential for additional fires in the remaining unburned range. "There is still plenty of range right now, but the fire hazard on the entire mountain is extreme. Another fire could take that entire mountain."
- A 300-acre fire 10 miles south of Cedar City was expected to be contained Wednesday, but only after it destroyed a $200,000 cabin and threatened six others shortly after its start Monday. The cause of that fire is still under investigation.
- The Cherry Creek fire 15 miles southwest of Eureka in Juab County was nearly contained Wednesday after burning 1,500 acres near Maple Peak, said BLM spokesman Bert Hart. The cause of that fire, which started Monday, is also under investigation.