Friday, 18 August, 2017

Wind fans the flames of Utah fire that has burned 13 homes

Brandon Whitworth Deseret News        The wildfire burning near Brian Head continues to grow on Wednesday Brandon Whitworth Deseret News The wildfire burning near Brian Head continues to grow on Wednesday
Edmund Collier | 29 June, 2017, 07:29

By Tuesday evening, more than 1,600 firefighters were assigned to the conflagration, backed by an aerial force of 13 water-dropping helicopters.

At least 13 homes and eight outbuildings have been destroyed in the ski community, which sits near the Dixie National Forest in the southern part of the state. More than 500 firefighters were battling the blaze that's near the small town where 19 members of an elite firefighting unit were killed while battling a blaze four years ago.

Since April, the state has experienced more than a dozen large wildfires "aided by high temperatures, winds, and available fuels", his office said in a statement.

The blaze is burning in thick chaparral that has not seen a fire in more than 40 years. Officials said the cause of the blaze is still unknown. Several wildfires in the West are contributing to smoky conditions throughout Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico, according to NOAA. Fire crews are battling dry, windy conditions and what officials say is a "high potential" for extreme fire behaviour.

As for the wildfires in California, about 10 percent of the blaze scorching up Riverside County-80 miles from Los Angeles-has been contained, according to local reports.

The blaze broke out late Monday afternoon and quickly grew to almost 2 square miles (5 sq. kilometers), the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

In an effort to get ahead of the flames, firefighters are carving out a containment line on a steep hill as planes drop fire retardant.

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The Arizona fire forced the evacuation of the town of Mayer along with several other mountain communities in the area, and one of the main roads into Prescott was closed.

Authorities said Tuesday that Mayer's post office has been closed until further notice because of the fire, which was fanned Tuesday by 35 miles per hour winds.

Meanwhile in California, firefighters had two major blazes under enough control to allow evacuated residents to return to their homes. As a precaution, the region to the northwest of the fire, a remote area called Upper Bear Valley, has been evacuated, she said.

The evacuation order is for a string of homes along sparsely populated rural roads in and around the small town of Santa Margarita about 10 miles (16 km) north of the much larger city of San Luis Obispo.

The Weather Channel is describing the Brian Head Fire as the largest active wildfire in the U.S. On Tuesday, authorities evacuated additional homes and cabins near the site of a wildfire, which has burned more than 77 square miles near the ski town of Brian Head. Similarly, an incident sparked a massive wildfire in California, which was when a auto in Los Angeles crashed into a tree, which sparked a fire that spread around quickly due to humidity and burnt nearly 750 acres of land in just three hours.

Crews in Utah and California were continuing to fight fires that forced hundreds of people from their homes.

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