First Big Wildfire of Season Burning Near Hanksville

First Big Wildfire of Season Burning Near Hanksville

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP/KSL TV) -- Utah's first large wildfire of the season has burned over about 1,700 acres about 20 miles southwest of Hanksville in southern Utah, and firefighters are taking a slow, low-cost approach to attacking it.

The blaze started Friday evening when lightning struck a tree near the Lonesome Beaver Campground in the Henry Mountains.

The fire is burning largely in pinon and juniper, Bureau of Land Management spokesman Bert Hart said. "The fuels are extremely dry. They just haven't had a chance to recover."

Wind and heat caused the fire to expand rapidly on Wednesday, but it settled down some on Thursday as the weather turned cooler and winds were lower, Hart said.

The fire has extended into two wilderness study areas, and there are a few cabins and three camp grounds in the area.

Hart said the options for attacking the fire were full suppression, concentrating on protecting structures or just letting it go.

He said officials picked the middle road, protecting structures.

"We're trying to keep the cost down," he said.

There is no projected date of containment and the fire may burn for weeks, he said.

Hart said 200 personnel, aided by two helicopters and five engines, were expected to be on the blaze Friday.

Some area roads have been closed.

Meantime, a wildfire in Utah County is an example of what we could expect this summer.

The fire started about 6:30 last night along the shore of Utah Lake. Fire crews contained the fire which burned about 25 acres.

The fire started near a campground at Utah Lake State Park. Flames shot high into the air and smoke was visible throughout Utah County.

The fire prompted authorities to evacuate some campers who were in one of the campgrounds as a precaution.

Fire officials say the blaze illustrates how the fire danger has already reached a dangerous point in Utah.

No structures were burned and damage is limited to vegetation near the campground. Other nearby campgrounds were not evacuated, although the smoke became very thick and some people temporarily left on their own.

Fire investigators are now looking at possible causes into this fire, but do not believe sparks from a camp fire are responsible.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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