Fires

The Latest: Wildfire evacuations lifted at Utah ski town

The Latest on wildfires in the U.S. Southwest (all times local):

10:35 a.m.

People are being allowed back to their southern Utah homes for the first time in nearly two weeks as crews increase containment at the country's largest wildfire.

Fire managers lifted evacuations at the ski town of Brian Head on Friday with the blaze 20 percent contained. Authorities say it's now torched more than 92 square miles (238 square kilometers), and, at its height, forced the evacuation of 1,500 people.

A state highway closed by the fire remains shuttered, so Brian Head residents will enter from the south. About half of evacuees are from that area.

Hundreds more people forced from their homes in a lakeside community to the east are being allowed back for short periods of time, though the local sheriff's office says most residents haven't been allowed to stay.

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7:29 a.m.

Authorities have reopened a major route through an Arizona community that barely escaped destruction when a massive wildfire swept into town.

The fire about 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of Phoenix had forced State Route 69 to be shut down, but the closure was lifted early Friday.

The blaze triggered evacuations for thousands of residents in a half-dozen communities and came close to consuming the town of Mayer.

Authorities allowed some evacuated residents back in Thursday and expect to let more return.

Crews secured lines around about 43 percent of the blaze.

The fire has consumed about 45 square miles (116.55 sq. kilometers) of brush and forest.

Authorities estimated that the fire has burned a handful of homes.

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12:57 a.m.

Authorities expect to allow more evacuated residents to go home and to reopen a major route through an Arizona community that barely escaped destruction when a huge wildfire swept into town.

State Route 69 though Mayer should re-open Friday. But thousands of evacuees will not be able to go home for days as the fire continues to burn in brush and forest about 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of Phoenix.

The incident commander for the fire that has consumed about 45 square miles (116.55 sq. kilometers) got a big cheer Thursday evening when he announced at a community meeting that crews had secured lines around about 43 percent of the blaze. Still, John Pierson warned several hundred people that the fire could cause more damage.