Wildfire near Utah ski resort forces 1,500 people from homes

(Reuters) - A wildfire in Utah burning across almost 50,000 acres with 100-foot flames has forced the evacuation of more than 1,500 people, fire department officials said on Tuesday.

The blaze near the ski resort of Brian Head, about 245 miles south of Salt Lake City, was only 10 percent contained, Brian Head Fire spokeswoman Elayn Briggs said.

The fire, which began on June 17, was fanned by high winds and quickly spread through dense timber wood, threatening homes in more than 10 communities.

Brian Head posted an evacuation notice on its website for all residents until further notice and said Highway 143 was closed.

The Utah Division of Forestry Fire State Lands said on Tuesday on its website that the fire had burned onto the Dixie National Forest, leading to parts of it being closed.

It said the Department of Transportation and local utility companies were assessing damage to roads and utilities and making repairs in anticipation of residents returning to Brian Head in the near future.

Wildfires have forced evacuations in several states. In Arizona, Governor Doug Ducey declared a state of emergency on Friday as more than 20 wildfires burned in the state. The largest, the so-called Frye Fire, was sparked by lightening on June 7 and was estimated on Tuesday to cover nearly 40,0000 acres near Mount Graham.

Firefighters in Southern California battled a fast-moving wildfire on Sunday that closed a highway and forced residents from their homes around Santa Clarita, a city north of Los Angeles, authorities said.

(Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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