Evacuation order for Brian Head expected to lift Friday

Posted at 9:55 PM, Jun 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-29 09:46:27-04

BRIAN HEAD, Utah - Authorities for Garfield County and the town of Brian Head announced highway closures and evacuation orders will be lifted in the coming days for certain areas affected by the Brian Head Fire.

Garfield County Sheriff Danny Perkins said at a community meeting in Panguitch that they expect to lift the closure on Highway 143 from Panguitch to the Panguitch Lake General Store and Panguitch Lake Resort, on the south side of the lake, on Thursday morning.

The rest of Highway 143 from there will remain closed, but he said that crews will shuttle residents to and from their cabins.

"It's going to help us," he said, of partially lifting the highway closure. "We've been transporting people into their cabins and we've been escorting them 16, 17, 18 miles, and this is going to shorten up that distance."

Later in the evening Bret Howser, Brian Head Town Manager, said that they expect to lift the evacuation order for the town of Brian Head at 7 a.m. on Friday.

He said they are still debating whether to open the Dry Lakes area.

Highway 143 between Parowan and Brian Head will remain closed, he explained, but he said residents and tourists will be able to access the town from the south on Highway 148.

The news comes as fire managers said they are making progress on the Brian Head Fire on the southwestern flank of the wildfire.

They said during the community meeting they hope to get containment along the southern edge by Sunday.

While they are making progress on the south side, Sierra Hellstrom, spokesperson for the fire, said the north side of the fire continues to grow.

She said the winds Wednesday prevented crews from confronting the fire on the north flank.

The fire has now burned into the Panguitch watershed, she said.

However a town spokesperson said Wednesday that the town has an alternate water supply that will be able to support the town.

The Brian Head Fire is 58,319 acres and 15% contained as of Thursday.