The Christian Science Monitor

In Utah, major forest fire fuels push for state, not federal control

Chris Butler, a hydrologist with the US Forest Service, was the acting district park ranger the day the Brian Head fire broke out. Here he visits a portion of the Dixie National Forest that was seared by the blaze. Three months later, the ground remains hard. Source: Christa Case Bryant/The Christian Science Monitor

Joe Adams had seen his share of fire. In Iraq. In Afghanistan. But never across the glassy Panguitch Lake in southern Utah, where he’d grown up.

Then on June 17, a small column of smoke appeared on the horizon. Fed by hot, dry winds, the blaze quickly became the largest active fire in the United States and the costliest in Utah’s history.

As the flames came roaring down toward his community, Mr. Adams – a young captain in the local fire department – drew up an evacuation plan for every neighborhood. He drove fire trucks and doused cabins.

But this young man who had left high school early to serve his country now faced the prospect that it was unable to save him and his neighbors. Every evening, he’d sit on his porch watching the billowing clouds of smoke across the lake and just cry. 

“Not from sadness or self-pity, just frustration,” says Adams. “I came

‘Everybody knew’Power to the people

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