'This thing has been a beast'

'This thing has been a beast'
By Catherine Hardy with UPI
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More than 1,500 people have been forced from their homes by the largest wildfire burning in the United States.


More than 1,500 people have been forced from their homes by the largest wildfire burning in the United States.

Firefighters are battling high winds as they fight the blaze that has spread to 184 square kilometres in southern Utah.

At least 13 homes have been destroyed.

Around 175 people have been allowed back to their homes near Panguitch Lake under escort.

Which areas have been affected?

The Utah fire began near the ski resort town of Brian Head, which is known as a weekend getaway destination for Las Vegas residents.

It has spread several kilometres east to an area around Panguitch Lake, a popular spot for fishing.

The authorities ordered more evacuations on Monday in a sparsely-populated area, as it is feared stronger winds and lower humidity could fan the flames in a northerly direction.

Firefighters say the blaze is around 10 percent contained.

What are the conditions like?

Grim. The flames are 100 feet high in places. Fire crews are battling dry, windy conditions and what officials say is a “high potential” for extreme fire behaviour.

Do they know how the fire started?

Yes. Investigators say it was sparked on June 17 near the Brian Head resort by someone using a torch tool to burn weeds.

They say they know who the person is but have not yet released details of their identity or what charges may be brought.

Are there fires burning anywhere else?

Yes. A wildfire surging out of control on California’s Central Coast has forced around 250 people to evacuate from their homes.

The blaze broke out Monday afternoon and had grown to 200 hectares within a few hours.

A traffic accident sparked another fire on a remote stretch of highway 100 kilometres east of Los Angeles. It has grown to 500 hectares in a few hours.

Two people were taken to hospital after the crash.

Flags are flying at half-mast in New Mexico in honour of a volunteer firefighter who died after being injured while battling a brush fire in eastern New Mexico last week.

John Cammack was left with severe burns after falling from a fire engine when the winds shifted and the flames changed direction.


Firefighters here had to ground aircraft because of unauthorised drones over a fire near Flagstaff.


Aerial efforts to put out a fire northwest of the town were temporarily halted.

What they are saying

“Things change day-to-day. This thing has been a beast.” – Brian Head resort spokesman Mark Wilder

“Until it is totally out, you won’t know if you will be ok,” – resident Randi Powell.


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