Brian Head fire slowly moves toward extinguishment

Fire crews continue working to contain the Brian Head fire that has now grown to more than 66,000 acres but is reported to be 65 percent contained, Panguitch, Utah, July 3, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Color Country Fire Interagency, St. George News / Cedar City News

ST. GEORGE — As crews are slowly released to return to their home areas and work on other fires, the Brian Head fire continues to burn within a controlled area.

Brian Head Fire map, Utah, July 15, 2017 | Map courtesy of InciWeb, St. George News | Click on map to enlarge

There are 407 personnel still on the fire which has blackened over 71,000 acres. The fire is 93 percent contained and is expected to be fully contained sometime this weekend.

Crews continue to mop up around the affected areas. Firefighters are still working around the area in the Dixie National Forest. Forest managers have asked the public not enter into the fire area. Heavy equipment and aircraft are still being utilized and the area is still hazardous due to sink holes, snags and hot spots.

A burned area emergency response team is assessing the fire area in order to recommend preventative treatments and emergency rehabilitation strategies for the burned areas.

“Wildfire can significantly alter the hydrologic response of a watershed to the extent that even modest rainstorms can produce dangerous flash floods and debris flows,” the United States Geographical Survey website states. “The USGS conducts post-fire debris-flow hazard assessments for select fires in the Western U.S.  We use geospatial data related to basin morphometry, burn severity, soil properties, and rainfall characteristics to estimate the probability and volume of debris flows that may occur in response to a design storm.”

An email warned residents and visitors to be aware if bad weather conditions occur.

“Everyone near and downstream from the Brian Head Fire burned area (burn scar) should remain alert and stay updated on weather conditions that may result in heavy rains over the burn scar.  Flash flooding could occur quickly during heavy rain events.  Current weather and emergency notifications can be found at the National Weather Service Salt Lake City website and for the Brian Head Fire burn scar at the NWS website.”

Air quality is reported as good and recreation opportunities in Brian Head and surrounding areas are available and open.

“It’s looking really busy today,” Caitlyn Zuniga of the Brian Head Resort said. “We’re expecting a lot of people. We just got a big rush and we’re expecting more.”

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

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