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Saturday, 1 July 2017

Brian Head, Utah, residents return home as fire danger ebbs

ST. GEORGE, Utah — After nearly two weeks, the residents and business owners of Brian Head finally returned home after an evacuation order was lifted Friday.
The sky over the town was clear and blue — a stark contrast from the dark smoke towers from the 93 square mile fire that loomed over ski resort just a few days ago. 
A view of Brian Head, Utah, on Friday, June 30, 2017. Residents were allowed to move back into Brian Head now that the Brian Head fire no longer threatens the town.

Georg's Ski Shop was open and ready for business early Friday morning after closing its doors 13 days ago when the human-caused wildfire forced the small community to evacuate on June 17.
Robby Hartlmaier, co-owner of the store, realized how lucky they were that the flames stayed away from the town. The only indicator of how disaster had threatened the 50-year-old building was the faint smell of smoke in the shop.
"It’s good to be coming back through these doors again knowing that we’re still up and alive and doing well — unlike a lot of other people who lost so much," Hartlmaier said.
This June 30, 2017, photo shows a cabin on Falcon Court road in Brian Head, Utah, that was destroyed by the Brian Head fire.

The blaze, which Gov. Gary Herbert confirmed was started by a man using a weed torch in dry conditions, has destroyed 21 buildings. Out of the 13 residences destroyed, only one was within Brian Head town limits. Three other homes also sustained damage.
But the fire isn't over just yet. Miles away near Panguitch, wind pushed the the fire to another 1,200 acres Thursday night and Friday morning. It remains 20% contained.
Historically, the Fourth of July weekend is one of the busiest times for Brian Head, located 80 miles northeast of St. George. Approximately 80% of the town's summer revenue comes from the four-day celebration.

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