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Winds send prescribed burn out of control; blaze grows to 3,200 acres

SALT LAKE CITY — Gusty winds whipped a prescribed burn out of control in the Uinta National Forest today, swelling a planned 600-acre fire to 3,200 acres and laying a blanket of smoke across the Salt Lake valley.

The blaze was initially set to clear about 600 acres of mountain brush in the Cascade Springs area, but by mid-afternoon Tuesday winds above 20 mph blew embers outside the prescribed burn line, U.S. Forest spokeswoman Loyal Clark said.

About 80 firefighters from Utah, Salt Lake, and Wasatch counties are fighting the fire along with crews from the U.S. Forest Service and the Division of Forestry Fire and State Lands. Firefighters said they had no idea when the fire might be contained.

"Wasatch Mountain State Park is probably the greatest threat right now," Clark said.

Smoke from the fire settled across the valley, obscuring views from Salt Lake City of the Wasatch mountain range to the east and the Oquirrh range to the west. Health officials urged people to stay inside and cautioned them against excercising outdoors.

At one point, the fire was moving 70-80 feet per minute, prompting fire crews to pull off and air tankers to make retardant drops.

The fire was located about 10 miles from the town of Midway, but no homes were being threatened and no evacuations were planned.

Forest officials have closed all roads leading to the Cascade Springs area, but the Alpine Loop remained open.