Crews were making progress Thursday choking off the last flames of several Utah wildfires, even as a ban on all open fires went into effect for the entirety of tinder-dry Utah.
The Lost Lake Fire, which had blackened nearly 2,100 acres of conifer, pinyon and juniper southwest of the Wayne County town of Teasdale, was 82 percent contained as of Thursday morning. Nearly 420 firefighters, aided by three water-bearing helicopters, continued to battle the Dixie National Forest area blaze, which was of undetermined cause.
A fire started Wednesday near a gravel pit in Stockton was fully contained Thursday morning after burning 150 acres. The fire started after some individuals were shooting guns for target practice in the area.
While the earlier closure of the Wayne Wonderland Airport had been lifted, authorities on Thursday left in place an area closure on the north slope of Boulder Mountain with the exception of Route 179, locally known as the North Slope Road, which leads to Fish Creek, Beaver Dam, Blind Lake and Green Lake. All other routes west of Green Lake to the Great Western ATV Trail running west were closed, according to the Fremont Ranger District.
While the situation looked promising Thursday, there was no estimate for when full containment of the Lost Lake Fire would be reached.
However, the stubborn Box Creek Fire had been declared 100 percent contained after burning nearly 2,200 acres and forcing evacuation of area summer homes and cabins. No structures were lost, however, and the evacuations were rescinded at dawn Thursday, according to Fishlake National Forest spokesman John Zapell.
The human-caused Box Creek Fire was wrestled into submission by nearly 300 firefighters since it began June 4, about nine miles northeast of Marysvale and 35 miles southeast of Richfield.
Meanwhile, the Lake Creek Fire was 100 percent contained as of Tuesday morning, having burned 1,200 acres some 10 miles northwest of Boulder. The U.S. Forest Service said that blaze, too, was believed human-caused, also on June 4.
Firefighters also had completely contained and were mopping up a 52-acre blaze in southern Utah's Winchester Hills. That fire began about 4 p.m. Wednesday, 10 miles north of St. George, when a travel trailer tire blew out and the rig's super-heated wheel broke off and tumbled into dry grass adjacent to State Road 18.
At one point, three homes were threatened and the deck of one residence caught fire before being extinguished, said Mike Melton of the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. No injuries were reported.
Continued warm weather, sparse rainfall and dry conditions prompted authorities to issue burning restrictions beginning Thursday that applied to all open fires, with the exception of those lit in improved campgrounds, picnic areas and permanent places of habitation.
The ban encompasses all state, federal and unincorporated private lands, and includes the use of any kind of fireworks, tracer ammunition or other pyrotechnic devices. Smoking also was prohibited except within enclosed vehicles, buildings or developed recreation sites.