BRIAN HEAD – Evacuations at Panguitch Lake have begun as the Brian Head fire moves closer to the area and is threatening several cabins, officials said.
Garfield County Sheriff Danny Perkins said his office is in the process of evacuating residents from at least 400 cabins while about 200 cabins are under serious threat.
“These cabins are likely to burn,” Perkins said. “There are about 200 cabins I’m looking at right now, here where the fire is headed towards.”
As of Thursday morning, the fire was reported to be nearly 11,000 acres. No official updates have been released since then. However, sources say the fire has continued spreading throughout the day.
Earlier reports show the fire was contained at 15 percent with nine helicopters, 27 engines and 10 crews comprising of 500 firefighters working the scene.
Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, has a family cabin at Panguitch Lake that he said he is concerned about.
Vickers’ son, who is building a home in Cedar City, has been storing his furniture at the cabin. He drove up today and was able to get all of it out but said the area is so smoky it’s difficult to see any damage in the area.
“They can’t even tell what exact damage has occurred so far,” Vickers said. “It’s so smoky up there.”
Vickers’ cabin is located on the north side of the lake where he said there is currently work going on to try and build a fire line to prevent the flames from spreading.
However, Iron County Sheriff Mark Gower said Thursday the fire is crossing fire lines as it rapidly travels through the area.
“It’s not stopping,” Gower said. “The fire is breaking through the lines because it’s so hot and it’s moving so fast.”
Firefighters battling the flames are also dealing with dangerous conditions that place them in harm’s way, said Gower and Vickers who both shared words of grateful support for the highly trained men and women on the front fire lines.
“They are literally risking their own lives,” Vickers said. “It is amazing the work these guys are doing and in 100-plus degree temperatures. They are working so hard to make sure they first protect properties and lives as much as they possibly can and risking their own lives to do it.”
Meanwhile, several cabins in Horse Valley were lost throughout the night as evacuations were ordered there and in Clear Creek and Beaver Dam.
Cedar City resident Kenneth Wade shared photos online of his family’s ranch that included three cabins and two trailers located in the Horse Valley area that straddles the Garfield-Iron County line.
The main cabin was built in 1963 by Wade’s father, grandfather and uncle who took two summers to build it.
Since then, the family has spent summers at the ranch, building a lifetime of memories together along with two more cabins, Wade said. But now with his father being 87 years old and the cabins completely burnt to the ground Wade fears those days are gone.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen at this point,” Wade said.
Wade visited the site early Thursday around 4:30 a.m., walking onto a scene he described as surreal.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Wade said. “I grew up spending my summers up there. I can still remember being a little boy and riding horses while I watched my father, grandfather and uncle pour concrete and hammer nails building that cabin. They built the walls around the wood stove because it was too big to get in the door and they didn’t want anyone stealing it.”
The fire took out the cabin walls leaving nothing reminiscent of the men’s work. The wood stove however remained, reminding Wade of the years gone by and the time shared with loved ones.
“It’s all ruined now,” Wade said. “Everything is in ashes. It’s so desolate up there – it’s eerie.”
The family maintained 500 head of horses, 200 head of sheep and 25 head of cattle on the ranch – all of them okay, he said.
Closures – Highway 143 remains closed from Parowan to the junction of Highway 148 near Cedar Breaks National Monument. The Dixie National Forest has issued a road and trail closure as well to prevent the public from entering the fire area.
The closure includes Marathon Trail #3224 from Forest Road 048 (Sidney Valley), Sidney Peaks Trail #3210, Mace’s Run Trail #3219, Dark Hollow Trail #3232, Hendricks Lake Trail #3249 and Forest Road 047 (Brian Head Peak Road.)
Maps are available at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5253/.
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