Rep. Stewart surveys damage as Brian Head Fire consumes more than 60,000 acres

Posted at 4:30 PM, Jul 01, 2017

SOUTHERN UTAH -- Things were peaceful Saturday in Brian Head.

Families played by the water and kicked off their holiday weekend. The scene was completely different from a couple of weeks ago when the fire started.

The evacuation order for the town was lifted Friday morning, and Saturday Highway 143 from Parowan to Brian Head was reopened. However, drivers are asked to use caution as fire and utility crews are still in the area.

“Brian Head cannot thank them enough for stepping up when things were tough; there was a true fire-fight that was going on here in the town of Brian Head," said Dan Benson, the town's director of public safety.

Congressman Chris Stewart saw the damage from the skies Saturday. The Republican represents Utah's Second District, which is home to the areas directly affected by the fire. He called the devastation heartbreaking, but said he was impressed at the work that crews have accomplished.

“God Bless these firefighters and the supervisors and people that are working and sacrificing so that we get to come up here and do this work, and our prayers are still with them, because the work is not finished," Stewart said.

The battle in the town of Brian Head may be over, but the war is not yet won. Crews are still fighting on the north end of the fire.

“Firefighters are working aggressively to directly line the fire on that northern flank using aircraft support as well," explained Jesse Bender, an Incident Management Team Public Information Officer.

Bender said conditions lately have been favorable, the wind has died down, and the near future is looking good.

“For about the next week or so it’s very steady, and there’s a possibility of some light moisture coming in mid to late next week," Bender said. "So we’re very optimistic at this point. Does not mean that it’s a done deal yet.

As of Saturday afternoon, the fire has scorched an estimated 60,301 acres and is 60% contained.

In the meantime, the Red Cross is providing Brian Head residents with cleaning supplies Saturday and Sunday, and is also operating in Panguitch and Parowan for those in need.

“We know how important it is that they get back to their normal lives, get back to everything, and cleaning up their homes, that’s a big part of it," said Frank Rutkowski, a Southern Utah Red Cross Public Information Officer.