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Utah Travel Headlines

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

High Winds and Wildfire Shut Down I-80, Damage Great Salt Lake Marina

I-80 west of Salt Lake City has reopened after high winds and a fast moving wildfire caused problems yesterday.

Flames and thick smoke prompted the closure of I-80. The fire started south of the interstate and jumped the freeway, where they destroyed structures at Great Salt Lake Marina. No boats were damaged.

Here are excerpts from this Deseret News report:

Two maintenance shops owned by the Department of Natural Resources, two other small buildings and parts of a Union Pacific rail line burned in a dangerous, wind-driven wildfire near Saltair. High winds created erratic flames and thick smoke, which led officials to close parts of nearby I-80 and state Routes 201 and 202.

A Union Pacific spokesperson said a converted flatcar and an unknown amount of rail line was damaged by the fire near Kennecott. It was unclear whether the damage will affect trains running.

"I'm quite pleased, actually," said Bob Rosell, manager of the Great Salt Lake Marina. "We missed getting any boats damaged."

The biggest problem the fire caused at the marina was that it knocked the power out. With the tourist season just around the corner, Rosell said his biggest concern was getting power restored to the marina.

About 1:10 p.m., a truck pulling an empty box trailer on U.S. 89 in Sardine Canyon rolled after it was hit by a strong gust, said Utah Highway Patrol trooper Cameron Roden. Troopers closed the highway to high-profile vehicles for about two hours.

Elsewhere, UDOT crews cleared a messy accident on northbound I-15 near Santaquin, where a truck hauling a trailer full of mulch lost control around noon and spilled the mulch, closing both lanes for more than an hour.

High winds also led Snowbird to close Mineral Basin, High Baldy and its tram. The resort was blasted by 36 mph steady winds, with gusts up to 72 mph. Brian Head resort in southern Utah also had problems with winds.


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