COALVILLE, Summit County — As firefighters continue to battle one of six fires that ignited Monday along I-80 from Tooele to Summit counties, officials say the fires were arson and might be linked.
"Evidence, witness info and other factors led investigators to believe there is a tie between all six arson fires along I-80 yesterday," state fire officials said in a tweet Tuesday on the Utah Fire Info account.
Leann Fox, spokeswoman for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, said officials have "significant evidence" that the fires were caused intentionally.
The largest fire — the Tervels Fire, burning northeast of Coalville, Summit County — has grown to about 580 acres and was 25 percent contained Tuesday.
The other five fires, the largest of which was "just a few acres," were put out Monday, said Jason Curry, public information officer for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.
Curry said officials are not currently releasing specific information about why they believe the fires were arson.
Utah investigators are also working with officials in Wyoming to determine whether fires that started along I-80 in that state are connected, Curry said. Additional information about the fires in Wyoming was not immediately available.
"It really concerns us when we know where somebody's actively, intentionally setting fires. And it's something that we want to get on top of and get them caught," Curry said.
Residents of the Echo Creek Ranches area, located 4 miles east of Tervels Fire, have been told to prepare to evacuate should the need arise.
"It upsets me really bad to think that somebody could get joy or some sort of excitement on doing this," Chuck Hadley, a property owner in the area, said of reports the fire was caused by arson.1 comment on this story
On Tuesday, fire crews were working to build a line on the south and west sides of the blaze. Officials cautioned people to "be cautious when driving in the area" and not to stop on the roads.
Cooler temperatures and "relative humidity" helped firefighters make progress on the fire Tuesday morning, Fox said.
An eastbound lane of I-80 remains closed from mile post 169 to 171 due to the fire.
Smoke was expected to be visible from the Ogden Valley; Coalville; Evanston, Wyoming; and surrounding areas, officials said.
State fire officials are asking anyone with information about the fires to call Summit County Sheriff's Office at 435-615-3500.
Contributing: Andrew Adams, Jed Boal