Update: Tuesday June 27, 11 a.m.: New information from the fire incident center says the fire grew to more than 49,000 acres overnight and is now 10% contained. Meanwhile, "red flag" warnings remain in place because of the chance of more windy, dry and warm weather.
Wildfire crews in southern Utah braced themselves Monday for the possibility that winds might expand the Brian Head fire northward.
Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox toured the fire’s perimeter in a Blackhawk helicopter and spoke with reporters afterward at the Brian Head resort.
“More than anything, we want to remind citizens to please, please, please be careful,” he said.
Cox pointed out that this year’s big snowpack and full reservoirs might be deceiving. The fire risk remains high, with the National Weather Service issuing a red-flag warning for much of southern Utah thanks to expected wind gusts into the night.
“People are not being careful enough,” he said, noting that several other human-caused fires had broken out over the weekend. “And, so, we’re just begging you, especially as we’re moving into drier times, the wind’s picking up, please be careful.”
Fire officials said midday Monday that more than 43,000 acres have already burned. The fire’s 10 percent contained and has destroyed more than a dozen cabins and other structures.
Cox said the estimated cost so far is around $10 million dollars and could be double that before it’s under control.
State Sen. Evan Vickers (R-Cedar City) said the Brian Head fire has caused anxiety locally because of the lost cabins and lost memories, as well as the safety of firefighters like his son-in-law.
“I hope that you recognize the sacrifice and the expertise that these firefighters bring,” said Vickers.
Also on Monday, a national fire prevention team landed in Salt Lake City to devise a statewide strategy going forward.
People have triggered 255 fires this year. That’s 91 percent of what’s already proven to be a busy fire year a full two months before the usual peak of the season. Most years, only 40% to 50% of Utah wildfires are human-caused.