Fire near Utah ski resort burns 13 homes after evacuations

A wildfire menacing a southern Utah ski town for nearly a week flared again, doubling in size for the second night in a row and torching more homes after residents fled the flames, officials said Friday.

The blaze was one of several burning in the U.S. West as extreme heat challenges firefighters.

The Utah fire that's charred 43 square miles (112 square kilometers) near the town of Brian Head has destroyed a total of 13 homes, Forest Service spokeswoman Cigi Burton said.

No one was injured because the houses were among 400 evacuated a day earlier from the alpine community that is home to the Brian Head Resort and near several national monuments and parks in Utah's red rock country.

Mountain bike and hiking trails, zip line courses and a water tubing hill that lure visitors to the resort in the summer were closed as firefighters try to hem in the flames.

At least 700 people have been out of their homes since Saturday, when the blaze was ignited by someone using a torch to burn weeds, according to authorities.

High winds and hot weather have intensified the fire, driving it toward Panguitch Lake, a fishing and recreation spot with more homes.

One house burned shortly after the fire started, three others Thursday afternoon and nine more were scorched overnight, Burton said.

The unidentified person accused of starting the blaze could face charges, according to state fire officials. Firefighting costs could rise to more than $1 million, said Jason Curry of the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.

In Southern California, firefighters made progress on a 5-day-old forest fire in the San Bernardino Mountains that has burned approximately 2?-square-miles (625 hectares). The fire, northeast of Big Bear Lake, was more than halfway contained Friday.

Firefighters mopped up from another California fire burning to the north in Sequoia National Forest. That wildfire, which charred more than 2 square miles (609 hectares), was expected to be fully contained Sunday.



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