Utah wildfire grows to largest active fire in the U.S.

By Brady Mccombs, The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — The nation’s largest wildfire has forced more than 1,500 people from their homes and cabins in a southern Utah mountain area home to a ski town and popular fishing lake.

Firefighters battled high winds Monday as they fought a fire that has grown to 72 square miles (184 square kilometers) and burned 13 homes — larger than any other fire in the country now, state emergency managers said.

Some flames reached 100 feet high, while fire crews faced dry, windy conditions Tuesday and a “high potential” for extreme fire behavior, officials said late Monday.

The estimated firefighting costs now top $7 million for a fire started June 17 near the Brian Head Resort by someone using a torch tool to burn weeds, they said. Investigators said they know who the culprit is, but they haven’t yet released the person’s identity or what charges will be leveled.

Crews in California, meanwhile, got a handle on a brush fire that closed a freeway. Arizona firefighters had to ground aircraft because of unauthorized drones over a fire near Flagstaff.

The Utah fire began near the ski resort town of Brian Head, generally known for weekend getaway homes for Las Vegas residents. It has spread several miles east to an area around Panguitch Lake, a popular spot for fishing.

Authorities ordered more evacuations Monday in a sparsely populated area as stronger winds and lower humidity develop that could push fire growth north after calmer weather kept its growth in check over the weekend. The fire is about 10 percent contained.

About 175 people have been briefly allowed back to their homes near Panguitch Lake since Sunday under escort, said Denise Dastrup with the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office.

Randi Powell said her grandfather is hoping to get up to see his cabin on Tuesday. …read more

Source:: The Denver Post

Two campers fall off 40-foot cliff near Harrison Hot Springs

A weekend camping trip ended with a trip to the hospital for a Prince George couple who fell 40 feet down a cliff while looking for a toilet.

Michelle Periera and Brian Fox pitched a campsite on a picturesque spot known locally as Moon Rock overlooking Morris Lake, west of Harrison Hot Springs, with friends Airn Plonka and Danielle Bleaney on Saturday.

After an idyllic afternoon swim, an evening around the campfire eating smokies and s’mores, and putting their two boys, age 3 and 5, to bed, Periera and Fox went to the bushes to answer the call of nature. It was about 11:30 p.m. In the darkness, they didn’t realize how close they were to the edge.

“We heard them screaming so we ran over to where we could hear them,” said Plonka, who lives in Abbotsford. “I went too fast and almost fell over myself.

“In the darkness, it almost looked like a tree-line, as if you’re walking into the forest.”

Daytime shot of where Brian Fox and Michelle Periera fell while camping Saturday near Morris Lake.

Plonka and Bleaney grabbed a flashlight and made their way down to the base of the cliff. The pair was drifting in and out of consciousness. Fox also had a gash in his head that was bleeding.

Soon after, Plonka and Bleaney realized there was a bear in the area. Bleaney, whose dad is a logger and who spent a lot of time in the bush growing up, described the sound as “a kind of heavy breathing, like a grunting.”

“We got freaked out a bit,” said Plonka.

He went back to his truck, grabbed and loaded a shotgun, grabbed a first-aid kit, then went back down. He left the shotgun with Bleary while he returned to the campsite, roused the boys, and ushered …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun

New study of Seattle’s $15 minimum wage says it costs jobs

SEATTLE — Seattle’s $15-an-hour minimum wage law has cost the city jobs, according to a study released Monday that contradicted another new study published last week.

A University of Washington team studying the law’s effects found that the law has boosted pay in low-wage jobs since it took effect in 2015, but that it also caused a 9 percent reduction in hours worked, The Seattle Times reported (https://goo.gl/G1Vr64 ). For an average low-wage Seattle worker, that’s a loss of about $125 per month, the study said.

“If you’re a low-skilled worker with one of those jobs, $125 a month is a sizable amount of money,” said Mark Long, one of the authors. “It can be the difference between being able to pay your rent and not being able to pay your rent.”

There would be about 5,000 more low-wage jobs in the city without the law, the study estimated.

Seattle was one of the first U.S. cities to adopt a $15 minimum wage law, and its experience is being closely watched as other cities have followed suit and as advocates push for a higher federal minimum wage.

The city’s law is raising the minimum to $15 for all businesses by 2021.

In the years covered by the study, 2015 and 2016, the minimum wage was at most $13, depending on business size, worker benefits and tips. The current minimum wage in Seattle ranges from $11 to $15, and unemployment is at a historically low 2.6 percent, thanks in part to the booming tech sector. Seattle has added about 40,000 jobs overall in the last few years.

Last week, a review by University of California at Berkeley economists found the law raised pay without hurting jobs in the restaurant industry. An author of that report, Michael Reich, criticized the University of Washington team’s methodology.

The University of Washington effort …read more

Source:: The Denver Post