The Brian Head Fire started on June 17, at 12:20 PM. It was a human caused fire which began when a torch tool was used to burn weeds. It forced the evacuation of more than 1,500 people from a number of small towns including Brian Head and Panguitch Lake. It began near the ski resort town of Brian Head and stretched to Panguich Lake, a popular fishing area. Most of the burned area is federal land managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The fire destroyed more than 21 buildings and 13 residences. Over 71,000 acres burned in a month’s time. At one point, there were 14 helicopters, 71 fire engines, and 1,605 firefighters on the scene. State officials estimate that the cost of fighting the fire could top $20 million. The Federal Emergency Management Agency authorized federal funds to pay 75 percent of the state’s eligible costs.
Operation Breakfast served breakfast over the course of two days to the people affected by the fire as well as the firefighters and medics. The firefighters and medics, who had been in the Panguitch area for over two weeks, had been eating powdered food. They were ecstatic to eat solid food for the first time in weeks! Overall, we had an amazing experience. We were able to get to know the small community of Panguitch Lake as well as hear the perspective of a disaster from first responders. Thank you Chief Dave Etter for making this possible and welcoming us to your community!