Utah wildfire forces thousands of homes to evacuate as the nation's largest fire in California rages

Originally Published: 15 AUG 21 06:36 ET
Updated: 15 AUG 21 09:38 ET

    (CNN) -- Wildfires in Utah and California continued to rage on Saturday, forcing residents to evacuate from thousands of homes.

As the Parley's Canyon Fire grew, more than 6,000 homes were evacuated east of Salt Lake City, Utah, Saturday afternoon. The sprinting fire swelled to at least 2,500 acres, according to the Utah Department of Natural Resources.

The evacuations affect between 6,000 and 8,000 homes in the communities of Summit Park, Pine Brook, Lambs Canyon and Mill Creek, according to the Utah DNR. The wildfire burned near Interstate 80, which was shut down in both directions until Saturday night.

The Summit County Sheriff's Office urged residents to leave their homes for both their own safety as well as first responders'. The fire was threatening 2,000 structures and power lines, according to fire officials.

"To the residents who are refusing to evacuate for the #ParleysCanyonFire - you are hampering efforts and are putting first responders in danger. PLEASE evacuate immediately!" the sheriff's office wrote in a Facebook post.

Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox said a Red Cross evacuation center has opened at Park City High School.

"We have been extremely blessed and lucky this fire season — but the #ParleysCanyonFire is big and dangerous." Cox wrote in a Facebook post. "Please be careful and follow all evacuation orders. We're all praying for the safety of our firefighters as the work to protect homes and lives."

Investigators believe the fire was caused by sparks from a catalytic converter, according to a tweet from Utah fire officials.

An Indigo Girls concert that was scheduled for Saturday night was canceled due to the fire, according to the Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah, which is about ten miles from the fire.

"This decision was made in order to help alleviate pressure on law enforcement services and fire resources," the resort tweeted.

"Things have slowed a bit with all of the great aviation work here on the #ParleysCanyonFire. It will take some time before the hand crews see success holding the fire line," fire officials tweeted.

Summit County officials also praised the aviation work on the fire.

"Thanks to great aviation work and phenomenal collaboration amongst all agencies involved in the suppression and evacuation efforts here on the #ParleysCanyonFire, things have slowed a bit tonight," county officials said in a Facebook post.

Dixie Fire in California grows

Further west, the Dixie Fire burning across two national forests, a national park and four counties in California continues to grow by thousands of acres.

"The Dixie Fire was extremely active yesterday afternoon producing multiple columns, including one that produced lightning," the National Interagency Fire Center said.

The Dixie Fire—the nation's largest active fire—has charred 552,589 acres as of Saturday, with 31% containment, according to Cal Fire. At least 6,533 personnel are battling California's second largest fire in history.

"Crews are focusing on structural protection to mitigate the threat to homes on Keddie Ridge and in Wilcox Valley. Due to thunderstorms, fire activity increased last night," fire officials said in an update posted on InciWeb, the clearinghouse for wildfire information in the US.

Three first responders have been injured while fighting to the Dixie Fire in Northern California. There are no reports of fatalities, Cal Fire said.

A total of 1,120 structures, including residences, commercial buildings and other minor structures, have been destroyed with another 74 structures damaged, according to Cal Fire. Nearly 15,000 structures are being threatened by the fire.

California's wildfire season this year has been overwhelming.

Wildfires have so far ripped through more than 917,000 acres, which is a dramatic increase of 233% over the same period last year, becoming the state's worst wildfire year on record, according to Cal Fire.

There are currently 103 active fires nationwide, according to the NIFC.

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