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BRIAN HEAD, Iron County— Crews are making cautious progress in containing the fire that has burned some 71,571 acres near the town of Brian Head.
On Saturday, firefighters worked along the north end of the fire, trying to burn up dry fuel ahead of the areas where wildfire activity is most prevalent, in efforts to further contain the blaze. Thunderstorms and high winds in the midmorning increased some of the fire behavior, preventing aerial burn operations and forcing ground crews to use hand ignition methods to burn up fuel sources.
"The general consensus was that things have been fairly calm, let's not get excited and get somebody hurt because we are in too big of a hurry," said Tammy Shroyer, a spokesperson for Brian Head Fire Information.
Shroyer said crews were determined to proceed safely as they continue their containment efforts.
Crews working on the south side of the fire continued to secure burned areas, working to protect their containment lines. Crews on the south end also removed hazardous trees near state Route 143, causing occasional delays along the roadway.
A total of 937 personnel, seven helicopters and 35 engines were involved with firefighting efforts as of Saturday morning.
Since receiving permission to return home, Brian Head residents have been able to examine their property, and local officials have begun to look at their overall preparedness for future fires.
"We will keep working with the state on fuels mitigation projects," said Bret Howser, the town manager for Brian Head. ""The Town Council is going to be looking at our ordinances as they relate to reducing fuels around private cabins."
Crews in the southern portion of the #BrianHeadFire will continue to monitor, secure and mop-up any areas where heat still exists. pic.twitter.com/gBtE6LMaBc — Utah Fire Info (@UtahWildfire) July 8, 2017
Howser said that he believes the efforts made to remove fuel sources before the fire helped to reduce the potential for damage and protect the town. As of Saturday morning, firefighters had the fire 80 percent contained.
Evacuation orders remain for Bear Valley, Horse Valley, Clear Creek (Iron County Portion is Voluntary), Little Creek Ranch, Red Creek, Second Left Hand Canyon, Co-op Valley and Little Valley.
Five Mile and Three Mile Roads both remain closed due to fire activity and Dixie National Forest has closed areas north of S.R. 143.
The Brian Head Fire started on June 17 when a cabin owner tried to burn weeds around his property. The wildfire destroyed 13 homes and eight outbuildings and caused hundreds to evacuate their homes for nearly two weeks.