Lusk Fire near Bannock-Power county border

The Lusk Fire located 4 miles east of Pauline near the border of Bannock and Power counties was 1,620 acres and 50 percent contained as of Thursday morning.

A lightning-caused fire burning about 4 miles east of Pauline near the border of Bannock and Power counties had grown to 1,620 acres as of Thursday morning.

Known as the Lusk Fire, it started at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. It was 50 percent contained as of 11 a.m. Thursday with full containment estimated by 8 p.m. Thursday. The estimated time of control is 8 p.m. Friday.

Sarah Wheeler, a fire information officer with the Eastern Idaho Interagency Fire Center, said the fire grew only slightly between Wednesday night and Thursday morning and larger estimates of the acreage burned were the result of more accurate mapping.

The fire is not threatening structures. Hand crews using tools will be used to put out hot spots due to the tough terrain.

According to a Fire Center press release, Power County Road and Bridge crews were working in the vicinity when lightning struck and attempted to put it out and make a fire line with road graders to minimize agricultural damage.

“Propelled by winds from an overhead thunder cell, the fire quickly spread through brush and grass towards the timbered ridge line,” the Fire Center said in the press release. “The fire continues to move in a south/southeast direction.”

Current federal resources deployed to the scene include six engines, two dozers, air attack, four single engine air tankers, two fire bosses and four large air tankers.

Another lightning-caused fire that started about 10 miles south of Oakley that was estimated at 12 miles and running Wednesday afternoon expanded to 200 acres by that evening.

The fire is on a ridge burning grass, brush, pinyon and juniper trees, the Bureau of Land Management Idaho fire said on its Facebook page.

“Crews are having to work against difficult access and winds,” the agency said. “There are structures in the area but they are not immediately threatened.”

Resources on scene the scene include the Oakley Rural Fire Department, seven engines, one dozer, an air attack, four single engine air tankers and an investigator.

“The dozer is making significant headway on containment by creating a line around the head of the fire,” the agency said.

Slight rain showers were helping to slow fire activity.

Estimated containment was estimated at 8 p.m. Wednesday, and crews estimated they will have the fire under control by 8 p.m. Thursday.

Along the Utah and Idaho border in Box Elder County, the first large wildlife of the summer has been held to about 563 acres, officials said Thursday afternoon.

The Black Pine Fire started late Tuesday morning along the north side of SR 30 near the intersection with SR 42, also known as Curlew Junction. It is burning in an area populated mostly by sagebrush, juniper and dry grasses.

Kayli Yardley, fire prevention specialist for Utah’s Forestry, Fire and State Lands division, said the fire was 40 percent contained by noon on Thursday and hadn’t grown since the prior night.

“They’re hoping to be able to release some resources, free them up to make available for initial attack for other incidents that come our way, Yardley said Thursday.

The cause of the fire was still undetermined and remained under investigation as of Thursday, but officials say it wasn’t started by lightning, which tends to strike at high points within a given geographic area.

“It was a roadside fire,” Box Elder County Fire Marshal Corey Barton said.

The fire threatened three structures but firefighters managed to protect them.

The collaborative response to the fire includes people from the Bureau of Land Management and Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands working with local fire departments from Box Elder County, Snowville, Park Valley and Fielding.

Road graders and bulldozers are being used to establish and secure the perimeter, while planes and a helicopter have been dropping retardant and water from the air.

Access to water became a problem on Tuesday after a power outage disabled well pumps in the area, but Barton said that issue has been resolved and there is now enough water available to sustain the firefighting effort.

The fire forced a brief closure of SR 42 on Tuesday, but the road reopened on Wednesday and there are no additional closures.

The Black Pine Fire is the first significant wildfire of the season in Box Elder County despite the persistently hot, dry conditions. While part of that might be due to luck, Barton said training and preparation are the primary reasons why there haven’t been more big blazes in the county so far this summer.

As of Wednesday Yardley said there had been 648 wildfires recorded in the state so far this year, including 31 in Box Elder County, that have burned a combined 60,000 acres. Two-thirds of those have been started by human activity. While those numbers are down from the same time last year, they still represent a sharp increase from 2019 and previous years.

Rainfall has been nearly nonexistent in Box Elder County this summer, but that could change in the coming weeks as the seasonal monsoon rains that have helped firefighting efforts in southern Utah in recent days will eventually push their way into the northern part of the state, said Kayli Yardley, fire prevention specialist for FFSL.

In the meantime, however, Yardley said smoky skies will continue to be a common sight in the area.

“It’s going to impact Utah from fires in other states,” she said.

The Twin Falls Times-News and the Tremonton Leader contributed to this report.{/div}