Utah politician blames 'tree-huggers' for Brian Head Fire

A fierce wildfire that has destroyed more than a dozen homes and forced the evacuation of 1,500 residents raged largely unchecked in southwestern Utah for an 11th day, as an army of firefighters struggled to corral the flames.

Emergency crews have managed to contain only 9 percent of the Brian Head fire since it started.

Bloch said his group hasn't challenged logging in the area of the Utah fire in two decades.

Hundreds of firefighters have been battling the wildfire, facing 100-foot flames along with very dry conditions and winds that have been gusting up to 30 miles per hour, leaving a "high potential" for "extreme" fire behavior, officials said late Monday.

In New Mexico, Gov. Susana Martinez ordered flags to fly at half-staff in honor of a volunteer firefighter who died from injuries suffered while battling a brush fire in eastern New Mexico last week.

The fire has burned 46,000 acres and is 10% contained, with the agency estimating it will take until July 15 to get it fully under control.

By Tuesday evening, more than 1,600 firefighters were assigned to the conflagration, backed by an aerial force of 13 water-dropping helicopters.

Fire officials in southern Idaho say quick responses to more than 20 wildfires sparked by thunderstorms in recent days have helped prevent small fires from turning into the type of giant fires that have scorched the region in recent decades.


The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said the collision Sunday caused a tree to catch on fire, beginning a blaze that spread toward the Disney Ranch area.

Many residents have painful memories of a 2013 wildfire that killed 19 members of an elite Prescott-based firefighting crew nearly four years to the date, and some struggled to leave their homes behind.

The current blaze is burning in chaparral that has not had a fire in more than 40 years, helping fuel its growth.

Authorities say the Utah fire was started on June 17 by someone using a torch tool to burn weeds on private land.

The blaze has grown to 2.5 square miles (6.5 sq. kilometers) since it broke out outside San Luis Obispo on Monday afternoon. Mayer is located about 70 miles north of Phoenix.

Utah Fire Info tweeted Wednesday that 276 of 303 wildfires sparked in the the state this year have been human-caused, and urged people to avoid using any objects that can spark a wildfire near dry vegitation.

Crews in California, meanwhile, had to deal with two new powerful and fast-growing fires, and Arizona firefighters had to ground aircraft because of unauthorised drones over a blaze near Flagstaff.

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