BRIAN HEAD – Authorities increased the numbers of fire crews and equipment Thursday as the Brian Head fire continued to spread throughout the day.
The fire grew to 17,294 acres with only five percent containment compared to 11,000 acres and 15 percent contained reported earlier in the day. Likewise, there are now 11 helicopters, 34 engines and 23 crews comprising 809 firefighters. Additional firefighting resources continue to arrive this evening.
Officials say the fire is continuing to grow at an “unprecedented rate.”
“Local area fire managers cannot recall witnessing such extreme fire behavior continuing for multiple days in this fuel type,” a news release issued Thursday evening by Color Country Fire Interagency stated.
Winds continued from the southwest for most of the day, shifting late in the evening to the north. This caused the fire to descend into Clear Creek Canyon and to move further south in the easternmost corner, near Rainbow Meadows.
Columns such as that over the fire today can create their own winds, which can hamper aviation operations.
Additional structures lost to the fire have been confirmed in the Horse Valley area resulting from yesterday’s erratic fire behavior.
Dense smoke is reported to have begun impacting nearby communities including Panguitch City, officials said. This happens even more so in the morning when the inversion settles into the valleys.
Those who are sensitive should consult their health care physician for advice, limit time spent outdoors and avoid over-exertion. Children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to the impacts.
Current evacuations – Additional evacuations have been issued. Panguitch Lake, Horse Valley, Beaver Dam, Blue Springs, Rainbow Meadows, 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 (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 inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5253/.
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