Southern Utah wildfire grows to largest in US

Map depicts the extent of the Brian Head fire as of 1:21 p.m. MST
Map depicts the extent of the Brian Head fire as of 1:21 p.m. MST
Author

30 June, 2017

Better weather conditions over the weekend help crews battle the fire.

Another caller tells dispatchers he was driving when he saw a fire started by a cabin owner who was burning shrubs around the home.

The heat in the West and Southwest is blamed for the deaths of two people in California, and it could have been a factor in the deaths of two hikers whose bodies were found in New Mexico's Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Cal Fire said the Hill Fire, which started Monday in the San Luis Obispo County, has burned about 1,600 acres. The blaze has since spread about 20 miles east, near Panguitch Lake, according to the Associated Press. On Monday, more evacuations were ordered for folks living in areas expected to see strong winds and low humidity.

The fire was 70 percent contained by 7 p.m., official said.

Thompson said his office was getting numerous calls about the smoke Tuesday afternoon.

"When we turn the Forest Service over to the bird and bunny lovers and the tree huggers and the rock lickers, we've turned our history over", Noel said. "Some are lightning-caused, but it's a big worry up here during the summer", she said. But that has not stopped them worrying.

Yavapai County spokesman David McAtee says about 3,400 people in the area have been affected by the fire and roughly 3,000 structures in the evacuated areas were at risk. "Until it's totally out, you won't know if you'll be OK".

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One of the victims was named as Mohammed Alhajali, a 23-year-old Syrian refugee, who came to Britain in 2014 with his brother. The residential tower was built in 1974 and had been extensively refurbished in works that were completed past year .

There have been no casualties aside from a few minor injuries, Briggs said.

"Not only do our hearts go out to those who have been displaced, but our attention and resources are focused heavily on containing the fire and protecting property and lives", he said". "This thing has been a beast".

Voluntary evacuations were issued for Highland Home Road, Longhorn Road, Death Valley Road and Shirleon Drive.

The fire near the resort town of Brian Head has now grown to 66.9 square miles (173.2 square kilometers) as of Sunday morning. A traffic accident sparked another fire on a remote stretch of highway 100 kilometres east of Los Angeles. The blaze was 10% contained.

Two people were hospitalized in the solo-vehicle crash and subsequent auto fire that caused the wildfire on Monday afternoon.

The current blaze is burning in chaparral vegetation that has not had a fire in more than 40 years, helping to fuel its growth.

Steve Bloch, legal director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, said Noel's assertion is an over-simplification of wildfires that are the result of fire suppression, climate change, drought and unpredictable winds.

Winds of 30 miles per hour and more whipped the fire through dense patches of beetle-killed trees and old growth conifers. Aerial efforts to put out a fire northwest of the town were temporarily halted.


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