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Whipped by gusty winds rolling off southern Utah's high desert, the Aspen Fire burned 355 acres by Thursday night.

Fire information Officer Cigi Burton said the blaze, sparked by lightning last weekend but not spotted until Wednesday morning, was nearing about 20 isolated homes and ranches. However, none was in immediate danger, and no evacuations had been ordered.

The fire was burning north of Bumblebee Mountain, 13 miles southwest of Cedar City, in hard-to-access, remote patches of grass, brush and timber. As of about 6 p.m. Thursday, the fire was 5 percent contained.

About 200 firefighters on the ground were getting renewed support in the air from five air tankers and a helicopter, which made steady drops of fire retardant and water to slow the blaze's progress. A ban on air traffic, including drones, was in place for a 7-mile radius.

One firefighter has been injured during the operation. Marcia Gilles, spokeswoman with Dixie National Forest, said the crew member tripped in the terrain and suffered a head injury and a broken wrist. The firefighter was taken by helicopter to a nearby hospital, where he was reported in good condition Thursday afternoon.

Ground crews worked to clear vegetation away from structures on Thursday, but there was no estimate for when the fire would be contained.

"The public is asked to avoid Highway 56 if possible," Burton said, noting emergency vehicle traffic needed the route. Bumblebee Ridge Road remained closed Thursday night.

The U.S. Forest Service says such "holdover fires" as this one are not uncommon. Small blazes ignited by lighting can smolder for days in the initially high-humidity associated with thunderstorms, then flare when conditions dry and temperatures rise.

Such was the case with another, smaller blaze about 3 miles south of the Aspen Fire, this one dubbed the Pine Canyon Fire. It was at 105 acres as of Thursday evening, and 5 percent contained. Twenty firefighters were assigned to the Pine Canyon blaze.

A third blaze in the area, the Saddle Mountain Fire, was at 103 acres as of Thursday evening. It was about 2.5 miles from the town of Pine Valley. That fire was being fought primarily from the air, using fire-retardant and water-bearing aircraft. Due to steep terrain and safety concerns, no ground crews had yet been assigned.

In Juab County, crews were working to put out a 111-acre fire.

The blaze was caused by lightning, but has been "fairly calm," said Jason Curry, spokesman for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands on Thursday morning. The Sand Mountain Fire wasn't spreading much because it was hemmed in by rocks and sand, Curry said. It was 70 percent contained as of 10:30 p.m. Thursday.

Elsewhere in the dry West, strong gusts and rising temperatures also worsened wildfires in other states. A blaze in central New Mexico exploded to more than 19 square miles and forced residents of some small communities to flee after sending up a towering plume of smoke that blanketed the state's largest city in a thick haze. Some structures have burned, but it's not clear whether they were homes.

In eastern Arizona, a small community was evacuated and thousands of other residents were told to prepare to leave after a wind-whipped wildfire charred about 12.5 square miles.

The weather was expected to pose problems for crews in those states and California, where flames that ignited Wednesday afternoon threatened about 140 homes and ranches, chewing through nearly 2 square miles of dry brush in an area that has not burned in 70 years.

Twitter: @remims

— Tribune reporters Courtney Tanner and Mariah Noble, and The Associated Press contributed to this story