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Utah wildfire: Country's largest active fire grows in size

28 June 2017

It has become the largest wildfire in the nation at 78 square miles (201 square kilometers).

That 6-square-mile (16-square-kilometer) wildfire temporarily closed Interstate 84 on Tuesday afternoon but traffic resumed in the evening.

More than 500 firefighters, including six hotshot crews, were battling the blaze, which was 1 percent contained as of 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Ducey said his office is receiving constant updates from state fire officials.

The blaze is burning in thick chaparral that has not seen a fire in more than 40 years.

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The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said the collision Sunday caused a tree to catch on fire, beginning a blaze that spread toward the Disney Ranch area.

Another stubborn wildfire is burning in southern Utah.

Near San Luis Obispo, the so-called Hill Fire destroyed the home of Big Bang Theory actor Johnny Galecki.

Winds gusted up to 30 miles per hour Monday and spread the fire on the northern end, dropping the containment of the fire to 9 percent. It has spread several miles east to an area around Panguitch Lake, a popular spot for fishing.

Firefighters said Wednesday the fire near the ski resort town of Brian Head grew by almost 6 square miles (10 square kilometers), even though winds weren't quite as fierce as they feared.

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The fire near the small city of Prescott was fanned by 35 mph (56 kph) winds and has charred more than 28 square miles (73 square kilometers).

Mayer has about 1,400 residents, and a shelter was set up at Bradshaw Mountain High School in Prescott Valley. Homes there have been evacuated since June 17 since authorities said the fire was started by someone using a torch tool to burn weeds on private land.

Yavapai County Emergency Management Coordinator Denny Foulk said there are about 2,000 residents in the area affected by the fire and 3,000 structures in the evacuated area were at risk but officials were not immediately sure how many are homes.

The Arizona fire forced the evacuation of the northern Arizona town of Mayer along with several other mountain communities in the area, and one of the main roads into nearby Prescott was closed. A wildfire surging out of control on California's Central Coast has forced around 250 people to evacuate from their homes.

Resort officials were concerned about the possibility of the Fourth of July festivities being wrecked because of the fire, but on the resort's website, Burke Wilkerson, the Resort's Vice President and General Manager said that "most of the fire activity has occurred in the areas outside and north of Town, and due to the extraordinary efforts of firefighters, Brian Head Resort, the Town of Brian Head and other local businesses have been unaffected by the fire". Similarly, an incident sparked a massive wildfire in California, which was when a vehicle in Los Angeles crashed into a tree, which sparked a fire that spread around quickly due to humidity and burnt nearly 750 acres of land in just three hours.

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The heat in the West and Southwest is blamed for the deaths of two people in California, and it could have been a factor in the deaths of two hikers whose bodies were found in New Mexico's Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Utah wildfire: Country's largest active fire grows in size