Utah officials blame lack of logging for major wildfire that destroyed homes

The fast-moving fire was ignited after a traffic collision and has authorities warning residents about possible evacuations.

Aircraft and more than 100 firefighters are battling the blaze. Investigators said they know who the culprit is, but they have not yet released the person's identity or what charges will be levelled.

At Brian Head Resort, officials are hoping that hot spots near where the blaze started will calm down enough to allow officials to lift the evacuations in time for 4th of July festivities that usually bring an estimated 15,000 people to listen to music and watch fireworks, resort spokesman Mark Wilder said.

"We're continuing to work with the sheriff's office to evaluate the needs of the evacuees and to see what we can do to get those folks back to their homes", Briggs said.

The Brian Head blaze ranks as the largest of 20 major, active wildfires burning across Utah and five other Western states - Arizona, California, New Mexico, Idaho and Oregon.

"There's no question that our inability to manage the forests the way they should and could be managed has led to more destruction", he said.

Utah firefighters braced Wednesday for more high winds as they try to slow a stubborn wildfire that has burned 13 homes and forced the evacuation of 1,500 people from a ski resort town.

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The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance said the statements were misleading, and countered in a prepared statment that climate change, drought, human activity and wind all play roles. Meanwhile, firefighters in Santa Margarita were able to contain about 40 percent of the fire, which scorched about two square miles of land on Tuesday.

Several small communities have been warned to be ready to evacuate.

Fire officials said midday Monday that more than 43,000 acres have already burned.

A wildfire in a rugged inland area of Southern California grew substantially overnight to almost 8 square miles (21 sq. kilometers). Crews were expected to strengthen the containment line on the south end of the fire.

Two people were hospitalized in the solo-vehicle crash and subsequent auto fire that caused the wildfire on Monday afternoon. He said the dead trees are the fuel needed for a devastating fire to spread.

Windy weather also was forecast throughout the state, with gusts up to 30 miles per hour along the Brian Head fire lines expected. Aerial efforts to put out a fire northwest of the town were temporarily halted.

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