Utah evacuees watched flames draw closer, smoke get thicker

The local county sheriff in Garfield began urgent evacuations of three localities on Wednesday evening-Clear Creek, Beaver Dam, and Horse Valley-which all lie northeast of Brian Head.

A wildfire near a southern Utah ski town has forced the evacuations of 400 more homes after the fire doubled in size amid high winds, authorities said Thursday.

An extreme heat wave in the Southwest U.S.is making the fight against a series of wildfires more hard Wednesday, including one that has destroyed at least four homes in an Arizona town known for its wineries, authorities said.

The Red Cross has established Family Assistance Center for evacuees at Panguitch High School.

Mammoth Springs was the most recent town to be evacuated on Friday. According to the National Park Service, a Type 1 Team typically has the most training and experience in fighting wildfires. "The Type 2 team will remain in Parowan, and the Type 1 team will be based at the Triple C Arena in Panguitch", according to a prepared statement by the Brian Head Fire Information Team.

The fire covered 3,000 acres on Wednesday.

Firefighters quickly responded and minimized the spread of these fires.

Crews are conducting point protection at the townsites and remote homes throughout the fire area as the protection of life and property remains of utmost importance to fire managers.

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Resources assigned to the fire include 29 hand crews, 41 engines, 10 helicopters, a variable number of air tankers, and a total of 996 personnel.

Winds are expected to be calmer Sunday, though still from the west/northwest.

State forestry officials said six structures were destroyed but didn't know how many were homes.

Closures - Highway 143 is closed from the cemetery in Parowan to milepost 50 outside of Panguitch.

Gov. Gary Herbert said the cause of the blaze was likely a weed torch used in dry conditions and said residents should be more vigilant during the hot, summer months.

With the hot, dry conditions persisting, forest officials imposed fire restrictions in hopes of limiting human-caused fires. It has since burned onto lands managed by Dixie National Forest and Color Country District Bureau of Land Management.

Smoke continues to impact the valleys and surrounding areas, and the effects of smoke have been reported in neighboring states as well.

Those who may be sensitive, particularly young children and the elderly, should consult with their health care provider and limit exertion outdoors. "Weather has not been on our side with the south-westerly winds", said Erin Darboven, Brian Head Fire spokesperson.

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