It's only the beginning of the fire season, and we're already seeing extreme conditions. —Brandon Hoffman, fire operations manager for the Lost Lake Fire
SEVIER COUNTY — An early summer wildfire season is putting firefighters on the front lines across the state, with seven large fires burning in Utah.
Three of the fires are in south-central Utah, within close proximity. Firefighters are gaining ground on the Lake Creek Fire, but they are still struggling to contain the Lost Lake and the Box Creek fires — which have each grown to more than 2,300 acres in just a few days.
In Sevier County Thursday, there wasn't nearly as much smoke as there has been the past few days. But Sandy Nelson with the U.S. Forest Service said that's simply because there's not as much wind.
The Box Creek Fire was still burning and, in some places, still a concern. Nelson said the Forest Service has employed "bulldozers and hand crews to keep it away from private structures and people's property."
Much of this fire is burning in rugged terrain, where the only way to get to the fire is to hike there. A helicopter has been dumping water in the hardest to reach areas.
The Lost Lake Fire was burning near Teasdale in Wayne County. It is also in rugged terrain, but access to get to flames is slightly easier than the other fire.
"It's only the beginning of the fire season, and we're already seeing extreme conditions," Brandon Hoffman, fire operations manager for the Lost Lake Fire, said.
Community meetings were held Wednesday so fire crews could update area residents on the fire battle and answer any questions.
Three homes were evacuated just outside of Teasdale, but only one was being lived in; the other two are summer cabins.
"I can't stress enough how people need to think about if they are going to have a campfire or where they are going to put it," Hoffman said.
The cause of the Lost Lake Fire was still being investigated, but investigators said they know the cause of the Box Creek Fire — it was started by the Forest Service as a prescribed burn.
Last month, the agency found roughly 2,300 acres near Greenwich, in Piute County, that were overgrown and quickly becoming a huge wildfire danger.
The Forest Service crews decided to light 200 acres, clearing small patches at a time so they could control it. Another 650 acres was also successfully burned and controlled.
"On day number seven, unfortunately, we got winds upwards of 30-50 miles per hour," said Jason Kling, district ranger with the U.S. Forest Service.
Those winds couldn't have been predicted almost two weeks prior to starting their burn.
"We were completely within those parameters and felt comfortable when we did that," Kling said.
But winds fanned the spot, and all it took was an ember, Kling says, that "blew across the meadow and landed into some heavy, thick, dead and down (brush). And with the wind, it took off on us."
Meanwhile, three more fires were burning in eastern Utah. They were started by lightning, but they've only burned about 200 acres combined.
The largest fire in the state was also sparked by lightning on June 1. Since then, the White Rock Fire has scorched more than 6,300 acres along the Nevada border. As of 5 p.m. Thursday it was 65 percent contained.