Brian Head fire chars 5,000 more acres

This June 23, 2017, file photo shows smoke from the Brian Head Fire, Iron County, June 23, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Color Country Fire Interagency, St. George News / Cedar City News

BRIAN HEAD – Similar to the last three days, the Brian Head wildfire continued to spread Friday as fire crews worked to keep the flames from jumping Highway 143.

The fire that’s charred around 43 square miles grew from 28,000 acres Friday morning to 33,000 acres by 8:30 p.m., While increasing 5,000 acres throughout the day, the growth was still slightly less than the 10,000-acre spreads seen the previous two days.

The fire, now the largest one burning in the state, is only 5 percent contained with most of that in the Brian Head location, officials said.

There are currently nine helicopters, 40 engines, 23 crews comprising of 836 firefighters. Officials have also ordered a Type 1 Incident Management Team to assist Team 4.

The Brian Head fire grew more than 10,000 acres overnight as the winds picked up and spread the fire to Mammoth Creek, June 23, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Color Country Fire Interagency, St. George News / Cedar City News

Operations will be divided due to the size and complex logistics of the dealing with such a large area of impact, travel and communications. Team 4 will remain in Parowan and work on the west side of the fire, while the incoming team will be based in Panguitch and assume command of the east side of the fire.

The location of the command post in Panguitch has not yet been determined.

The winds were from the north and northwest pushing the about 2-3 miles to the southeast on the southeast flank of the fire.

Weather conditions improved slightly today, although the red flag warning remains in effect through Saturday.

A view of the Brian Head fire, June 22, 2017 | Photo courtesy Kenneth Wade, St. George News / Cedar City News

Northwest winds at 6-11 miles per hour with gusts near 18 miles per hour are expected to continue Saturday afternoon and early evening. Winds are expected to diminish more on Sunday; however, southwest winds are expected to return Monday.

Temperatures will remain 10 degrees or more above normal with low relative humidity values of 14 to 17 percent.

Tomorrow, fire crews plan to evaluate additional perimeter growth, continue hand line operations and suppression efforts around structures in the town of Brian Head, Thunder Ridge boy scout camps, First Left Hand Canyon, Yankee Meadows, Panguitch Lake and the Dry Lakes area. They will also continue to work to secure fire on the west side of Highway 143.

Members of the Incident Management Team, community leaders and agency representatives will be on hand to provide an overview of fire suppression activities and answer questions Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Panguitch High School auditorium.

From the Brian Head Fire, Brian Head, Utah, June 17, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Mike Berg, Parowan Police Department, St. George News

Current evacuations – Additional evacuations have been issue today.

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 are all under evacuation by local law enforcement.  Evacuees can contact the Red Cross for shelter information.  Fire officials recommend familiarizing yourself with the Ready, Set, Go Program (http://wildlandfirersg.org/).

Closures – Highway 143 is closed from the cemetery in Parowan to milepost 50 outside of Panguitch.  Mammoth Creek Road is closed at the junction with Highway 143.  The north side gate of 143/148 is closed; however, Cedar Breaks National Monument is open with access via Highway 14.  The Dixie National Forest has expanded its area closure.

Please check your route before planning recreational activities.  Maps and a thorough description of the closure area are posted at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5253/.

The Brian Head Fire started around midday Saturday, June 17, and grew very quickly through dense timber on lands administered by Brian Head Town, Iron County, in cooperation with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands.

The fire has since burned on to lands managed by Dixie National Forest and Color Country District Bureau of Land Management. Cedar Breaks National Monument remains open.

Email: tsullivan@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @tracie_sullivan

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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