On Sunday July 23, 2017, lightning ignited a wildland fire in the East Zion Area, near the eastern boundary of Zion National Park. Engine 403 from Zion National Park responded to the fire report and found a large ponderosa pine on fire just inside the NPS boundary. Burning debris from the struck tree had fallen to the ground and started a fire around its base. The Jolley Gulch fire, so-named for the geographic feature nearest its origin, did not grow beyond the area around the tree due to lack of vegetation and fuels through which to spread. The low fuel loading was not by chance, but was a product of numerous years of planning and projects intended to generate just such an outcome. Firefighters were easily able to extinguish the fire without requiring additional resources, holding it to less than one acre. Had the lightning struck a tree in an area that had not been treated with fuel reduction measures, the fire would have easily spread to surrounding vegetation and crossed the park boundary, threatening private lands and multiple structures, residences and businesses adjacent to the park.
Numerous residents were at their cabins over the weekend and heard and/or saw the lightning strike. They were impressed with the response of Zion firefighters and expressed their gratitude for their hard work and for containing the wildfire to less than an acre. They recognized the potential for worse outcomes had the park not performed fuels reduction within its boundary. After containing the fire, firefighters spoke with residents about the importance of maintaining their properties to reduce the risk from wildland fires and offered guidance on how to accomplish this.