Utah wildfire grows as 2 powerful California blazes spread

The Brian Head Fire in Utah is the nation's largest largest wildfire and firefighters are still struggling to gain control of it.

Authorities said Monday they're ordering more evacuations at the fire that has torched more than 67 square miles (174 square kilometers) and cost more than $7 million to fight. Fire crews are battling dry, windy conditions and what officials say is a "high potential" for extreme fire behaviour.

Firefighters also responded to other smaller fires across the region. The overnight surge dropped estimated containment on Tuesday to 9 percent, but the target date for completely hemming in the flames remained July 15. "These guys are working their hind ends off and really are heroes", said Garfield County Sheriff Danny Perkins.

More than 1,500 people in that area have been evacuated due to fires throughout the state.

As of Tuesday morning, the blaze had scorched almost 50,000 acres, the bulk of that in the Dixie National Forest, with crews managing to carve containment lines around just 10 percent of the fire's perimeter, officials said.

Firefighters are bracing for more strong winds in the coming days, with forecast placing many areas across the southwest under critical fire danger.

Firefighters worked Tuesday to stem both further growth on the northern perimeter of the blaze and to shore up and extend lines in the Panguitch and Dry lakes and Blue Springs areas. The fire is only 20 percent contained. One of the main roads into Prescott was closed.

The town of Brian Head ordered an evacuation of all residents, and the number of people forced from their dwellings throughout the fire zone has climbed to 1,500, according to U.S. Forest Service spokesman Andrew Jackson. Wilder said they're hopeful but realistic.

Nara Visa Fire Chief Gary Girard told The Eastern New Mexico News that John Cammack was severely burned after falling from a fire engine when the winds shifted and the flames changed direction.

Steve Bloch, legal director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, said Noel's assertion is an over-simplification of wildfires that are the result of fire suppression, climate change, drought and unpredictable winds. He said the dead trees are the fuel needed for a devastating fire to spread.

The Arizona Republic reported that another unauthorised drone was spotted on Sunday, temporarily halting aerial efforts to put out a fire northwest of Flagstaff that is 88% contained.

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