- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 4, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Several thousand people turned out Tuesday for a more subdued annual July Fourth celebration in a southern Utah ski resort town days after a nearly two-week evacuation from a wildfire was lifted.

“Everybody’s happy to be back,” said Bret Howser, Brian Head town manager. He said crowds were smaller than usual for the alpine community, which sits near several national monuments and parks in Utah’s red rock country.

Officials decided to cancel a fireworks display because the area is still too dry and ripe for fires.

“In this little town, we usually pack about 10,000 people in here for the fireworks show,” Howser said.

Still, Brian Head Resort spokesman Mark Wilder said several thousand people turned out for the resort’s festival with live music, food and vendors. Wilder said the sky was clear and blue, and the mood was encouraging, happy and supportive.

Town and ski resort officials scrambled to put together the event after learning late last week that they would return in time for the celebration.

About 700 people fled Brian Head on June 17 after a man burning a pile of weeds started the wildfire. The fire later spread to nearby communities and burned at least 13 houses.

Officials allowed Brian Head residents to return Friday.

Howser said that most years, local firefighters celebrate July 4 by driving through town in the morning blaring the sirens on their firetrucks to wake up residents and then host a pancake breakfast for them.

This year, residents and volunteers wanting to show their gratitude decided to put on a pancake breakfast for about 30 local firefighters, Howser said. Those firefighters, on a break from battling the blaze still burning on 105 square miles (272 square kilometers) outside town, were able to relax, mingle and hear the thanks of locals.

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