Nearly 1,000 firefighters battle Utah wildfire, 1,500 people evacuated

Nearly 1,000 firefighters battled a Utah wildfire that grew Sunday morning to nearly 67 square miles and has prompted the evacuation of 1,500 people from hundreds of homes and cabins. In Southern California, a wildfire broke out after a car crashed on a freeway.

KUTV reported that a few families were allowed back to their homes near the resort town of Brian Head to survey damage and retrieve essential items, but most were left waiting and wondering when they would be able to come home. The fire has also burned in the Dixie National Forest.

Evacuation orders were also issued for nearby mountain communities that are generally known for its weekend getaway homes for Las Vegas residents.

“This is a catastrophic fire, no two ways about it,” said Garfield County Sherriff Jim Perkins.

Fire officials said Sunday they were hoping that upper level moisture would help them in their effort to douse the blaze that was 8 percent contained and destroyed at least 13 homes and eight outbuildings.

The fire in California started Sunday afternoon in Santa Clarita north of Los Angeles, prompting authorities to send crews to fight the blaze that quickly grew to more than 1 square mile acres (2.6 square kilometers), fed by tinder-dry brush and driven by winds in stifling heat. One structure was destroyed but authorities did not say if it was a home.

The Utah firefighters could face more challenges on Monday because the National Weather Service warned of critical fire weather conditions with gusty winds, high temperatures and low humidity. There’s also a chance for thunderstorms that could add more sparks.

The Utah blaze was accidentally started June 17 by someone using a torch to burn weeds. It intensified over the past week because hot and windy weather conditions fanned the flames.

Authorities on Monday will send a second team of firefighters to help try to put it out. The National Interagency Coordination Center’s latest report showed it was the largest…

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