This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
FILLMORE - The Utah Highway patrol has now reopened a portion of Interstate 15 closed this afternoon in the area of the Milford Flat Fire.
The interstate was closed around 2 p.m. from the junction of I-15 and Interstate 70 to State Road 20 south of Beaver. As of 7 p.m., I-15 is once again open.
Officials are now estimating the size of a fast-moving wildfire at a stunning 283,000-acres, a figure they say makes the blaze the largest wildfire in Utah history.
The fire, started Friday afternoon by a lightning strike near Milford, was pushed by strong winds through dry grasses, sagebrush and pinyon juniper trees. It had burned an estimated 160,000 acres Saturday. An aerial mapping of the fire today put the total acreage burned at 442 square miles - or an area four times the size of Salt Lake City, said Kathy Jo Pollock, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Forest Service.
Both Interstate 15 and Interstate 70, which were closed in the area on Saturday, reopened Sunday morning.
Jimmy Hodges, owner of Cove Fort Chevron, nearly lost his gas station Saturday afternoon. His sons, who were at the station at the time, said they saw a "wall of fire" coming across the interstate and evacuated customers and fled themselves as the flames moved toward the business.
"They figured it was gone and so did everybody else. The fire just came up over the top of it and all the way around," Hodges said.
When he returned, the grass and several buildings around the gas station burned, but the station remained and Hodges was open for business Sunday morning.
"There's a sign there that's about 60 feet high and it burned that sign completely," Hodges said. "I don't know what else to say other than it was a miracle we made it through."
Roy R. and Mary Ann Redmon of Rowland Heights, Calif., ages 68 and 65, were killed as they were returning home from a motorcycle trip on I-15 around 2:15 p.m. Saturday near Fillmore. Police say they were forced to stop because of the thick smoke, and were struck by a white Subaru Outback.
About three homes as well as some LDS missionaries at a church-run historical site in Cove Fort were evacuated Saturday. A voluntary evacuation was called for some cabins near Manderfield.
The fire also destroyed one seasonal home, about eight outbuildings, some hay fields and some livestock in Beaver and Millard counties, sheriffs from there said.
Smoke from the Milford Flat Fire was creating an overhead haze as far as 100 miles to the north.
A highly trained Type I firefighting team arrived Sunday and planned to take over the firefighting Monday morning. About 500 firefighters were expected to arrive today to battle the blaze. About 100 local firefighters tried to slow the fire Friday and Saturday.
The Federal Emergency Management Administration has approved a state request for federal funds to help fight the fire. Under the emergency grant, up to three-quarters of eligible firefighting costs could be covered by FEMA.
- Tribune reporter Erin Alberty contributed to this report.