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A fast-moving fire that began Saturday afternoon off Interstate 80 in Parleys Canyon and quickly threatened several mountaintop subdivisions along the Wasatch crest remained completely uncontained as of 9:15 a.m. Sunday morning.
Although the fire had stopped spreading overnight, no containment was expected until at least the end of the day Sunday, according to Sierra Hellstrom, a Forest Service information officer on loan to the Northern Utah Interagency Fire Center.
Hellstrom called the fire “an emerging situation” as more crews were expected on the ground Sunday in an effort to map the fire and get a better idea of what is happening.
Summit Park, Pinebrook and upper Mill Creek Canyon all remained under evacuation orders Sunday. Salt Lake County public safety officials are requesting that people stay out of Lambs Canyon, where nearly 100 seasonal homes are spread along a narrow road several miles up the canyon.
One piece of positive news came later Sunday morning. Officials tweeted that aerial reconnaissance teams surveying the fire mapped the burn perimeter at 619 acres, down substantially from an original estimate of 1,500. Officials also reported “spot fires” near the ridge above Summit Park, the evacuated neighborhood containing a few hundred homes.
The Utah Department of Natural Resources closed popular boating destination Jordanelle State Park on Sunday so firefighting helicopters could tap that reservoir’s water. Helicopters have been dipping into Little Dell Reservoir, hardly a mile from the fire, but officials decided to shift to the much larger Jordanelle Reservoir as a water source to avoid further depleting the already low Little Dell, according to Hellstrom.
The Parleys Canyon Fire was started Saturday around 2 p.m. by an eastbound vehicle that ignited fires along four separate spots on Interstate 80, just east of the mouth of Lambs Canyon, Hellstrom said. Based on witness statements, officials believe a faulty catalytic converter was throwing sparks that landed in the dried grasses along the south edge of the road, and flames quickly spread uphill into timber.
Within an hour, smoke from the blaze could be seen from Salt Lake City.
I-80 was closed for a time, though it is was opened in both directions on Sunday. Some 2,461 Rocky Mountain Power customers lost electricity, according to a tweet from the company, but power was restored.
— This is a developing story and will be updated.