About 3,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management rangeland has burned in two blazes that firefighters brought under control Friday.
Firefighters in Salt Lake and Davis counties also were busy with small brush blazes that one official said portend a long, hot summer of range fires.In Salt Lake County, a fire of unknown origin scorched about 10 acres of brush north of a subdivision near 3000 S. Wasatch Blvd. Friday afternoon, briefly threatening nearby homes.
Firefighters from Salt Lake County and the U.S Forest Service took about 30 minutes to control the fire after being called at 2:30 p.m.
Dry conditions and strong southerly winds helped establish the blaze before firefighters arrived.
Jim Cook, fire management officer for the Wasatch-Cache National Forest, was not sure what caused the fire, which began at the base of a hill east of the boulevard and worked its way up toward the subdivision.
"By the time I got down to see what started it, the residents had beaten any evidence out with shovels and hoses." Cook said, however, that he believes the blaze was man-made.
Earlier Friday, Cook helped put out a small brush fire in the Rick's Canyon area above Centerville.
"We don't usually start having these things until the first of July. I can see a long, hot summer ahead."
A fire that burned 2,200 acres of BLM land near Dugway Proving Ground was man-caused, but investigators Friday afternoon still were searching for the exact cause.
Fire officials have not ruled out a possible connection with the presence of thousands of National Guard and Reserve artillery troops training in Utah's west desert in the Firex '88 exercise.
Interagency Fire Center Manager Pete Hansen said the fire, on Davis Mountain near Dugway, was reported Thursday afternoon and was brought under control Friday. Natural causes were ruled out, but blame for the fire had not been placed yet.
In Juab County, crews Friday contained an 820-acre wildfire, which has been burning on public land since it was started by lightning Wednesday afternoon.
The Mud Springs fire, as it has been named, is in an area five miles southwest of Tintic Junction and 10 miles north of the Little Sahara Recreation Area, said Bert Hart, Bureau of Land Management spokesman in the Richfield District.
Wind gusts from a mostly dry storm system have made the fire particularly difficult to handle, Hart said.
Additional fires in the BLM's Richfield District are likely because of dry conditions and frequent lightning strikes, Hart said. Lightning detection equipment counted 2,041 lightning strikes in Utah Thursday; 400 of those were inside the Richfield District.
The fire had consumed 700 acres of sage, grassland and scattered juniper trees of Thursday, and the total acreage burned had increased to 820 acres by the time the firebreak was established at 4:30 a.m. Friday, Hart said. One bulldozer and a water tanker truck were assisting 12 state and federal firefighters Friday.