Man killed during helicopter mulch operation at Brian Head Fire

Monday, Oct. 9 UPDATE: Officials identified the victim as 58-year-old Bryan Burr, of Alpine, Utah. The Salk Lake Tribune newspaper reported Burr was the brother-in-law of Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.

We have also learned he was the co-owner and president of a charter helicopter service. Visit FireAviation.com to learn more.

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Original story: A man was killed Saturday October 7 during Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) operations on the Brian Head Fire in southwest Utah. The 58-year old crew member on the ground from Alpine, Utah was giving directions to a helicopter dropping straw mulch when he was struck on the head. The pilot saw the injured man and contacted others who called 911.

Brian Head Marshall Jeff Morgan was flown to the remote site off State Route 143 about 1:45 p.m. and determined that the man had died.

Brian Head Fire map
Map showing planned BAER treatments on the Brian Head Fire.

A statement from the Iron County Sheriff’s Office read:

It was determined he likely died as a result of blunt force trauma from falling debris during the airdrop.

It was not clear from the statement if the man was hit by straw mulch or debris from a nearby tree as the straw fell.

The identity of the person killed has not been released.

Since an aircraft was involved in the fatality the National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating the accident.

Map Brian Head Fire Utah
Map of the Brian Head Fire in southwest Utah. The red line was the perimeter at 2:30 a.m. MDT June 29, 2017. The white line was the perimeter 24 hours earlier.

The Brian Head Fire burned over 63,000 acres in late June.  On August 25 BAER teams began dropping 3,200 tons of wheat straw from helicopter nets to cover the soil surface. The additional ground cover increases the germination of seeds dropped earlier and helps absorb raindrop impact lessening water runoff potential.

BAER treatments Brian Head Fire
File photo of a BAER team member on the Brian Head Fire, July 8, 2017. BAER team photo.

Our sincere condolences go out to the family, friends, and coworkers.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Charlie.
Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Uintah Fire in Utah: 18 structures damaged or destroyed

The fire burned 619 acres.

Teams of fire, structural, and law enforcement personnel have completed an evaluation of the structures that were affected by the Uintah Fire that started September 9 southeast of Ogden, Utah near the community of Uintah.

Their findings:

  • 3 Homes destroyed
  • 2 Homes damaged
  • 1 Mixed commercial property damaged
  • 8 Other structures damaged (sheds, outbuildings etc.)
  • 4 Other structures destroyed (sheds, outbuildings etc.)

Total: 18 destroyed or damaged structures

Strong down canyon winds pushed the fire rapidly to the west, burning into a residential area and along the Interstate 84 corridor.

Many homes, however, were saved, as you can see in the videos below:

On Friday the Weber Fire district reported that there were some remaining hot spots, it was 85 percent contained, and still assigned to the fire were 10 engines and a total of 50 personnel.

Uintah Fire burns homes south of Ogden, Utah

Approximately six homes have burned and a Type 1 Incident Management Team has been ordered.

(UPDATED at 8:41 p.m. MDT September 5, 2017)

The Type 1 Incident Management Team (IMT) previously ordered for the Uintah Fire southeast of Ogden, Utah near the community of Uintah has been changed to a Type 3 IMT.

The perimeter was mapped Tuesday evening with GPS; the result, 619 acres.

At 7 p.m. Tuesday 250 homes are still under evacuation orders, according to ABC 4 News.

Local residents can call 211 for information about the fire. I-84 eastbound and westbound is now open.

(Originally published at 3:13 p.m. MDT September 5, 2017)

Uintah Fire
The Uintah Fire at about 10 a.m. September 5, 2017. Photo by Weber Fire District.

The Uintah Fire that started around mid-morning Tuesday has burned approximately six homes and caused evacuations southeast of Ogden, Utah near the community of Uintah. Both Highway 89 and Interstate 84 were closed at one point as the fire burned near 89 and jumped across and then burned along the interstate to South Weber where structures were involved.

Uintah Elementary School was evacuated as well as an assisted living facility and several neighborhoods.

At about noon aircraft began working the fire, and National Guard helicopters were mobilized. At one point a small drone was spotted a few hundred yards from helicopters that were assisting firefighters.

map of Uintah Fire
The red pin shows the approximate location of the Uintah Fire.

At noon the size was estimated at 500 acres and it was running to the northwest. A Type 1 Incident Management Team has been ordered. At 1:22 p.m. MDT the Weber Fire District reported that five fixed wing aircraft and two helicopters were working the fire along with numerous fire engines and ground-based firefighters.

The fire was driven by very strong down-canyon winds blowing to the west where I-84 climbs up the drainage to the east. The Power Plant weather station at the Interstate recorded 12 to 24 mph sustained east winds gusting at 28 to 45 mph. The temperature was in the 70’s with a relative humidity of 30 percent.

Continue reading “Uintah Fire burns homes south of Ogden, Utah”

Brian Head Fire slows, but continues to spread to the northeast

The fire has burned over 58,000 acres.

Above: Map of the Brian Head Fire in southwest Utah. The red line was the perimeter at 2:30 a.m. MDT June 29, 2017. The white line was the perimeter 24 hours earlier.

(Originally published at 12:52 p.m. MDT June 27, 2017)

The spread of the Brian Head Fire in southwest Utah slowed on Wednesday, thanks to weather less conducive to extreme wildfire behavior, but it still continued to grow on the northeast side. In that area there are large expanses with much lighter vegetation (or fuels), possibly due to past fires, but a couple of spot fires east of those locations are in heavier fuels and have expanded during the last two to three days progressing to within six miles of Panguitch.

On Wednesday the fire consumed another 4,117 acres, bringing the total to 58,318 acres.

On Thursday firefighters will be assessing structure protection needs in Walker and Potato Patch as well as continuing efforts in Breezy Pines. Tactical options are being developed on the north side of the fire.

An illegally operated drone flew into the fire area Wednesday, forcing all firefighting aircraft to be grounded for safety reasons. Law enforcement responded and is investigating the incident. Hobbyist drone operators are reminded that “if you fly, we can’t fly.” There is a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) over the fire area and it is against federal law to fly a drone within the restricted area. This also happened on the Goodwin Fire in Arizona Wednesday, as well as the Lightner Fire in Colorado.

Resources assigned to the fire include 48 hand crews, 82 engines, 14 helicopters, a variable number of air tankers, and 1,729 personnel. The suppression costs to date have totaled $14.9 million.

Evacuations are still in place for several communities.

Brian Head Fire continues to spread to the east

The fire has now burned over 54,000 acres.

Above:  On the map above the red line was the perimeter of the Brian Head Fire at 2:30 a.m. MDT June 28, 2017. The white line was the perimeter about 26 hours earlier.

(Originally published at 10:18 a.m. MDT June 28, 2017)
(Updated at 10:24 a.m. MDT June 28, 2017)

The Brian Head Fire continued to spread to the northeast and east on Tuesday, reaching Indian Hollow, and as of 2:30 a.m. Wednesday had burned 54,202 acres, an increase of over 4,500 acres. At that time it was within 6 miles of Panguitch.

Firefighters have made progress on the spot fires and slopovers on the south and east sides of Highway 143. Those areas showed very little if any growth on Tuesday.

Brian Head Fire Yankee Meadow
An Inciweb photo of the Brian Head Fire described as “Yankee Meadow”.

The additional spread of the fire Tuesday was on the northeast and southwest sides.

The weather will again be a problem for firefighters on Wednesday with a Red Flag Warning being in effect for the area. The forecast calls for wind out of the southwest and west at 13 to 15 mph with gusts up to 22 mph. The temperature should reach 69 degrees with a relative humidity bottoming out at 10 percent. Conditions are expected to moderate on Thursday and Friday.