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Crews make progress on Brian Head Fire as eyes shift to Monday's weather

BRIAN HEAD, Iron County — Improved weather conditions allowed crews to gain a little ground on the Brian Head Fire Sunday, currently the largest wildfire in the nation.

Incident Commander Tim Roide described Sunday as, “a good day for firefighters, who were able to have success securing areas of particular concern, including the many structures affected by the Brian Head Fire," according to the evening briefing from fire officials released Sunday night.

However, another red-flag warning was expected Monday as wind from the southwest was expected to pick up and a slight chance of a thunderstorm was in the forecast. To counter that, a bulldozer fireline was created across Horse Valley on Sunday, and air tankers dropped retardant immediately adjacent to the dozer line.

"(On Monday), crews will continue to secure the southern perimeter of the fire to slow its progression toward Mammoth Creek," according to fire officials.

The Brian Head Fire remained at 42,800 acres Sunday night, but the fire was considered 10 percent contained, a slight increase from Sunday morning, according to fire officials.

A Type 1 Incident Management Team that was scheduled to take over control of firefighting operations on the wildfire's eastern half starting Sunday will take control Monday morning. According to the National Park Service, a Type 1 team typically has the most training and experience in fighting wildfires.

"The two teams will work together to protect the values at risk and coordinate the full suppression of the fire. The Type 2 team will remain in Parowan, and the Type 1 team will be based at the Triple C Arena in Panguitch," according to a prepared statement by the Brian Head Fire Information Team.

Saturday afternoon and evening, crews battles hot spots south of state Route 143 near Mammoth Creek and Prince Mountain caused by wind-blown embers.

Ten towns remained evacuated Sunday morning: Panguitch Lake, Horse Valley, Beaver Dam, Castle Valley, Blue Springs, Rainbow Meadows, Mammoth Creek, Dry Lakes, Second Left Hand Canyon and Brian Head, amounting to about 750 people. Thirteen homes and eight outbuildings have been destroyed as of Sunday.

The American Red Cross continued Sunday to operate a shelter for displaced residents at Panguitch High School located at 390 E. 100 South, and has set up operation to help with other needs at in at the library.

A total of 36 crews, 49 engines, 11 helicopters equaling 1,140 personnel continued to work the fire. Thee fire was started by a cabin owner on June 17 using a torch to burn weeds.

Other fires

Alpine Fire: The blaze started Saturday at the mouth of American Fork Canyon. The canyon and Timpanogos Cave was scheduled to remained closed through Sunday afternoon. Officials say the he fire, which was started by a campfire that got away, burned about 300 acres.

Shepard Fire: A fire near the border of Farmington and Fruit Heights that started Friday evening and burned about 130 acres was declared 100 percent contained Sunday afternoon.

Pony Fire: A new fire also started Sunday afternoon in Tooele County near Erickson Pass. It burned about 19 acres.

Beaver Canyon Fire: The fire near Strawberry Reservoir burned about 43 acres and was 25 percent contained Sunday evening. Fire officials noted that "multiple structures" were saved due to firefighting efforts.

Cedar Fort Fire: A small fire broke out 2 miles south of Cedar Fort on Sunday. The fire was expected to be fully contained by Sunday night.

Soldier Hollow Fire: The fire that started Friday afternoon due to an ATV crash near Midway and forced the closure of Cascade Springs was 100 percent contained by Sunday evening. But crews are expected to remain at the site for several days putting out hot spots.