Brian Head residents return home, firefighters obtain more control of fire


By Holly Coombs
holly@ironcountytoday.com

Evacuations for Brian Head, Dry Lakes, Panguitch Lake and Mammoth Creek have been lifted and Highway 14 through Cedar Canyon is open to residents and visitors as firefighters have obtained 60 percent containment of the Brian Head fire as of Saturday morning.

While the fire has spread into more than 60,000, firefighters are making progress, according to a Brian Head Fire update.

Evacuations still stand for Upper Bear Valley, Horse Valley, Beaver Dam, Clear Creek, Castle Valley, Blue Springs, Rainbow Meadows, and Second Left Hand Canyon.  All evacuations are being evaluated daily.  Evacuees can contact the Red Cross for shelter information.

Closures Five Mile and Three Mile Roads are closed.  Highway 143 is closed from the cemetery in Parowan to Brian Head and from the junction of 148/143 to Panguitch Lake.  Mammoth Creek Road is closed from Mammoth Creek to the north, with no access to 143.  The Dixie National Forest has an area closure on lands north of Highway 14.  Please check your route before planning recreational activities.  Maps of the closure area are posted at inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5253/.  Anyone violating these closures may be cited.

Friday, firefighters made significant progress toward containment of the fire.

With 14 helicopters, 86 engines and 50 crews, 1,809 personnel continue to mop-up as well as planning for contingencies in the event of future perimeter growth.

“Dozers have been used extensively in the northeastern flank of the fire where there is little containment,” according to a recent update from Brian Head Fire Department. “Firefighters will continue to patrol the fire perimeter around the Town of Brian Head and along Highway 143 through Parowan Canyon (Saturday).  Increasing containment has allowed numerous resources from the west side of the fire to be transferred to the northern perimeter, where most of the fire growth has occurred in the past three days.”

Lighter winds have helped keep the fire growth down.

“Firefighters are beginning to remove a great deal of equipment and supplies that were used in the suppression of the fire,” according to the update.  “Nearly 50 miles of hose have been used thus far – each section of hose is 100 feet long, totaling over 2,600 individual sections of hose.  About 60 small engine pumps have been used to pump water from area creeks and lakes onto the fire.”

On Thursday, aerial operations dropped over 300,000 gallons of water in numerous locations on the fire to help slow its progression. 

“Firefighters made good progress (Thursday) with containment along the southern flank of the fire,” the update stated.  “Suppression efforts will be concentrated on the northern flank of the fire where threats still exist for growth.  With increasing containment, hand crews that have been working on other sections of the fire will be moved to the northern flank to assist in digging hand line and working to contain the most active portion of the fire.”

In light of the fire progress Congressman Chris Stewart had a press briefing on the subject at Navajo Lodge Parking Lot last Saturday. The Red Cross also continues to serve the firefighters and refugees.

Cedar City Mayor Maile Wilson said anyone interested in supporting the firefighters are welcome to donate.

“I have had a number of people ask me what they can donate to our firefighters at the Brian Head Fire and where they can take their donations,” Wilson said on a post on social media. “After speaking with them these are the items they would like (and that are easy for them to pack around with them): Juice, pudding cups, fruit cups, trail mix, nuts, jerky, squeezable apple sauce and cliff bars. The donations can be taken to the Cedar City Fire Station at 291 N 800 West in Cedar City. I know the firefighters truly appreciate the love and support shown from our community.” 

The Brian Head Fire started around midday on 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.

PHOTOS: Courtesy of Brian Head Fire

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