MANDERFIELD, Beaver County — Officials shut down I-70 from milepost 1-23, and a campground in central Utah was evacuated Tuesday night after a fast-moving fire and smoke threatened the area.
The shutdown began about 7 p.m. and officials expected that it would last overnight
The Twitchell fire — a lightning-caused fire that has steadily been growing since July 20 — increased in the past week from 7,000 acres to more than 17,000 as of Tuesday night.
Westbound I-70 was closed at the junction with U.S. 89 and traffic was being rerouted from U.S. 89 onto state Route 20 for access to I-15. Eastbound traffic was being rerouted to U.S. 50 near Scipio to allow travelers access to I-15.
The fire had grown to nearly 11,000 acres on Sunday but heavy winds and brush fuel sources caused the fire to expand another 6,000 acres, forcing the road closure. Officials issued a warning at 8:25 p.m. stating the fire would likely reach the freeway within 20 minutes. Engines and additional fire crews were at the scene with plans to light a backfire along I-70 to help control the fast-moving flames Tuesday night, Utah Bureau of Land Management spokesman John Zapell.
"We are considering the freeway to be threatened," Zapell said at 9 p.m. "The last report is the fire is about a mile away but thankfully the winds are starting to die down."
Officials had believed the fire was near containment and were planning to begin demobilizing fire crews. But with Tuesday's fire spread, officials were instead planning to call additional crews to assist with the fire. The winds began dying down around 8:30 p.m., and the fire began to slow down into the evening.
Zapell said voluntary evacuations were in place at the Castle Rock campground south of the Fremont-Indian State Park headquarters, as well as some residences scattered along Clear Creek Road in that area.
The following road closures were already in place:
Indian Creek Road (Forest Road 119) at Pole Creek Junction (Forest Road 589).
Shingle Creek Road (Forest Road 114) intersection with the Paiute Trail Mud Flat Road (Forest Road 583). Mill Creek Road (Forest Road 113) from Mud Springs (junction of Forest Road 116 and Sevier Canyon Road) to Kimberly Junction, where it meets the Max Reid Trail.