Southern Utah wildfire grows, additional evacuations ordered

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A southern Utah wildfire grew again overnight, forcing additional evacuations.

Fire officials said Saturday that it had charred about 58.7 square miles near the town of Brian Head.

It’s 5 percent contained and has destroyed at least 13 homes.

High winds and hot weather continue to intensify the fire but conditions are expected to improve Sunday before winds return Monday.

Hundreds have been subjected to evacuation orders in nearby alpine communities that are generally known for second homes as a weekend getaway for Las Vegas residents.

Officials said firefighters are trying to fully extinguish hot spots in the southwest corner in order to allow Brian Head residents to return.

The blaze was ignited a week ago on June 17 by someone using a torch to burn weeds.

800 battle Arizona wildfire

The Frye Fire in southern Arizona covered nearly 30,000 acres as of Saturday afternoon and was 29% contained, the forest service at Coronado National Forest said.

More than 800 personnel are battling the fire, which started June 7. The Frye Fire is about 70 miles northeast of Tucson, the second-largest city in Arizona.

Gov. Doug Ducey declared a state of emergency Friday in Arizona to authorize the use of $200,000 of emergency funds to counter increased wildfire activity.

Since April, the state has experienced more than a dozen large wildfires “aided by high temperatures, winds, and available fuels,” his office said in a statement.

“We thank the many brave men and women who have stepped up and responded to wildfires around Arizona,” Ducey said. “I’m issuing today’s declaration to make sure they have every resource needed to do their jobs and protect our communities.”

The area near the fire is expecting temperatures in the triple digits through next Friday, with no sign of rain.

Other fires

Sixteen other active fires of lesser size are blazing around the West.

In New Mexico, the Corral Fire reached about 17,000 acres and is burning with low to moderate intensity, according to New Mexico Fire Information.

And in central Oregon, the Rhoades Canyon Fire grew to 15,000 acres but was 50% contained, according to CNN affiliate KTVZ.

The heat in the West and Southwest is blamed for the deaths of two people in California, and it could have been a factor in the deaths of two hikers whose bodies were found in New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

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