UPDATE: Brian Head Fire Grows Overnight, More Evacuations Ordered
Update Sunday June 25:
The Brian Head Fire grew slightly overnight but firefighting officials are hopeful that calmer winds and a bit of rain on Sunday will slow the fire's growth. The fire is 42,800 acres and 8 percent contained. Evacuations remain in place for Brian Head, Panguitch Lake, Horse Valley, Castle Valley, Rainbow Meadows, Mammoth Creek, Beaver Dam, Blue Springs, Dry Lakes and Second Left Hand Canyon.
Friday, June 25:
Emergency officials say hot and windy conditions more than doubled the size of the Brian Head Fire overnight in southwestern Utah. The fire is now 28,000 acres in size and only 5 percent contained.
Firefighters have struggled to contain the blaze that started on June 17 near the Brian Head ski resort near Dixie National Forest.
A northerly wind shift helped spread the fire, which has destroyed 13 homes and several outbuildings.
Erin Darboven, a spokeswoman for the Great Basin Fire Management Team, said weather conditions are making it more difficult.
“This bone dry air, combined with the fuels and the winds, so we’ve have mother nature’s winds that have been generating from a north-northwest direction and pushing it into the Panguitch area,” she said.
Nearly 800 people are working on the fire with more crews requested.
Gov. Gary Herbert said the cause of the blaze was likely a weed torch used in dry conditions and said residents should be more vigilant during the hot, summer months.
“This year to date, three-quarters, 75 percent of all the fires we’ve had have been man-caused, which means they’re preventable," Herbert said on Thursday.
Several hundred people have been ordered to evacuate the communities of Brian Head, Horse Valley, Clear Creek, Beaver Dam, Blue Springs, Mammoth Creek, Rainbow Meadows and Panguitch Lake Campground.
A red flag warning signifying high risk of wildland fires remains in effect through Saturday.