Utah's Brian Head Fire grows to 50,000 acres as containment stalls

By Andrew V. Pestano  |  June 28, 2017 at 6:46 AM
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June 28 (UPI) -- The Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands said the Brian Head Fire in southwest Utah has grown to nearly 50,000 acres as containment stalls at 10 percent.

The Utah forestry agency on Tuesday said high temperatures, low humidity and winds are expected to continue through the week, which will produce "extreme fire behavior with crowning, long-range spotting and group torching."

Firefighters on Wednesday will continue to protect structures in the Panguitch Lake, Dry Lakes and and Blue Springs area. Authorities also expect to determine where the fire is projected to move. Most of the fire growth from Monday to Tuesday occurred in the northern part of of the fire, the forestry agency said.

"On the northern side of the fire ... operations managers are looking past the old-growth timber, to where the fuels change to sage and grass and suppression efforts may be more successful," the Utah agency wrote in a statement.

The fire was started June 17 by a resident burning weeds and has been fueled by hot, dry conditions and strong winds.

Several communities have been evacuated: Upper Bear Valley, Panguitch Lake, Horse Valley, Beaver Dam, Castle Valley, Blue Springs, Rainbow Meadows, Mammoth Creek, Dry Lakes, Second Left Hand Canyon, and the town of Brian Head.

An environmental group this week rejected comments by a Utah politician who on Monday blamed "tree-huggers" and "rock-lickers" for the destructiveness of the Brian Head Fire.

The Brian Head Fire is one of several wildfires affecting the U.S. Southwest: the Goodwin Fire in Arizona's Prescott National Forest has burned more than 18,000 acres; the Frye Fire in Arizona's Coronado National Forest has burned more than 38,500 acres; the Cole Creek Fire in Nevada has burned more than 4,500 acres; and the Holcomb Fire in California's San Bernardino National Forest has burned more than ,1500 acres.

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