A 10,000-acre range blaze started by artillery fire from a large-scale military exercise was contained shortly after midnight Thursday.
Firefighters fought several other lightning-caused fires and one other man-caused fire during the night Wednesday in the West Desert and in southern Utah.Pete Hansen, manager of the Interagency Fire Center, said the largest fire started about 1 p.m. 5 miles south of Dugway and spread onto Bureau of Land Management land in the Pony Express and Davis Mountain area. The area is a winter range and wildlife habitat.
The fire began during the last day of FIREX '88 artillery maneuvers at Dugway. "They were firing artillery and some sort of incendiary bombs," said Hansen. "There were about eight fires that grew into one big fire."
Late Wednesday firefighters had constructed a 9-mile fire line and were expecting to finish the final five miles during the night. The fire was expected to be mopped up by midnight Thursday.
Fourteen fire engines from Tooele County, the state, Bureau of Land Management and Army were at the fire scene along with 31 firefighters.
Hansen said that the 98-degree afternoon temperatures made fighting the blaze difficult.
"The temperature reached 128 degrees in the fire areas. We were concerned for a while," he said.
Firefighters contained a 40-acre man-caused fire in Puddle Valley west of the Great Salt Lake Wednesday, and quickly squelched a quarter-acre fire from a lightning strike south of Skull Valley in the Onaqui Mountains, J.R. Davis, Interagency Fire Center dispatcher, said Thursday.
Crews will be working still another lightning-caused fire in the Sheep-rock Mountains south of Tooele Thursday, he said.
There were 6,426 lightning strikes statewide between 6 p.m. Wednesday and 7 a.m. Thursday. Parts of the state south of Richfield and Cedar City "really got pounded," he said.
Lightning was blamed for three fires in southeastern Utah, including a blaze that scorched about 50 acres in Cottonwood Canyon near Moab, a wilderness study area.