Utah evacuees watched flames draw closer, smoke get thicker

A wildfire menacing a southern Utah ski town for nearly a week flared again, doubling in size for the second night in a row and torching more homes after residents fled the flames, officials said Friday.

The blaze was one of several burning in the U.S. West as extreme heat challenges firefighters.

The Utah fire that’s charred 51.5 square miles (133.5 square kilometers) near the town of Brian Head has destroyed a total of 13 homes, Forest Service spokeswoman Cigi Burton said.

No one was injured because the homes and cabins were among 600 evacuated a day earlier from the alpine community that is home to the Brian Head Resort and near several national monuments and parks in Utah’s red rock country.

Mountain bike and hiking trails, zip line courses and a water tubing hill that lure visitors to the resort in the summer were closed as firefighters try to hem in the flames.

At least 700 people have been out of their homes since Saturday, when the blaze was ignited by someone using a torch to burn weeds, authorities said.

High winds and hot weather have intensified the fire, driving it toward Panguitch Lake, a fishing and recreation spot with more homes.

Brian Head and eight other communities and campgrounds were under evacuation orders, fire spokeswoman Erin Darboven said. She did not know the total number of homes or residents affected.

Jim Moore said the flames were about a mile from his home in the community of Beaver Dam Village when he packed up his car and his dog early Thursday. At that point, the evacuations were not yet mandatory.

“At 2 o’clock in the morning, I could stand on my deck and see the flames,” Moore said. “It was pretty scary.”

Moore, who drove about four hours to Las Vegas where his girlfriend lives, said Beaver Dam Village is almost entirely made up of second homes and cabins and is largely a weekend getaway for Vegas residents.

LaRue Billings, who spends summers with her husband in their recreational vehicle near Panguitch Lake,…

Read the full article from the Source…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *