Brian Head fire spreads to nearly 50,000 acres overnight

On the northern perimeter of the Brian Head fire, wind gusts of 30-miles per hour fanned 100-foot flame lengths and caused spotting of a half mile, Blue Spring Mountain, June 26, 2017 | Photo by Tracie Sullivan, St. George News / Cedar City News

BRIAN HEAD – The Brian Head fire is now almost 50,000 acres, with containment dropping overnight as firefighters grappled with 30 mph winds that fanned 100-foot flame lengths and caused spotting of a half-mile Monday.

Brian Head fire map posted on the InciWeb incident webpage at 11:21 a.m., June 27, 2017 | Photo courtesy of InciWeb, St. George News / Cedar City News | Click to enlarge

Officials reported the fire Tuesday morning at 49,626 acres – nearly 3,000 more acres than Monday evening – with 9 percent containment.

Red flag weather conditions will continue Tuesday and Wednesday, with high temperatures, low humidity and southwesterly winds expected throughout the week.

Wind speeds Tuesday will be lower than Monday but will pick up earlier in the day. Low relative humidity overnight caused the fire to continue to burn well into the early hours of the morning. Crews worked through the night around the structures on the east side of the fire.

Firefighters will continue monitoring and patrolling the fire perimeter near structures, ensuring that no hot spots remain.

On the southern flank, crews will work along the constructed dozer line to strengthen the containment line. Fire operations personnel are evaluating the difficult terrain near Sydney Peaks for opportunities to contain the fire.

On the northern perimeter of the Brian Head fire, wind gusts of 30-miles per hour fanned 100-foot flame lengths and caused spotting of a half mile, Blue Spring Mountain, June 26, 2017 | Photo by Tracie Sullivan, St. George News / Cedar City News

On the northern side of the fire, where the majority of Monday’s growth occurred, fire managers are looking past the old-growth timber to where the fuels change to sage and grass and suppression efforts may be more successful.

The Department of Transportation and local utility companies are working in Parowan Canyon again to assess damage and make infrastructure repairs to ensure that the roadway is safe and all utilities operation for the residents of Brian Head in anticipation of reopening the town soon.

There are currently 13 helicopters, 67 engines and 39 crews comprising 1,427 firefighters. Engines and the number firefighters were greatly increased Monday as the Type 1 Incident Management Team took control over the east side of the fire in and around Panguitch.

On the northern perimeter of the Brian Head fire, wind gusts of 30-miles per hour fanned 100-foot flame lengths and caused spotting of a half mile, Blue Spring Mountain, June 26, 2017 | Photo by Tracie Sullivan, St. George News / Cedar City News

As the fire continues, authorities are again asking the public to please refrain from rumors, gossip and speculation, as the incident remains under investigation and no citations have been issued. In regards to evacuation notices, this information will be made through official lines.

CURRENT EVACUATIONS – The following communities remain evacuated per local law enforcement:  Upper Bear Valley, 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. Evacuees can contact the Red Cross for shelter information. If you live in an area affected by wildland fires, officials recommend familiarizing yourself with the Ready, Set, Go Program.

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. The Dixie National Forest has expanded its area closure to include Forest lands north of Highway 14. Please check your route before planning recreational activities. Maps of the closure area are posted at the InciWeb incident webpage.

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. It 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 with access via Highway 14.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

Email: tsullivan@stgnews.com

Twitter: @tracie_sullivan

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

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1 Comment

  • Brian June 28, 2017 at 9:57 am

    Every resident of Panguitch, Parowan, Brian Head, and everywhere around Cedar Mountain should take turns suing SUWA, etc for this fire. If they do it one at a time and a few lawyers help them out pro-bono maybe they can put them under, or at least keep them busy. Using the courts to prevent logging is how they created this mess, its only fitting its how we solve the problem.

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