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Wildfire forces closure of Willard Canyon

Posted at 9:34 AM, Jun 18, 2023

WILLARD, Utah — Officials have closed Willard Canyon in Box Elder County as crews battle a fire that broke out overnight Sunday.

The Willard City Fire Department, along with Box Elder County Fire units, responded to the scene of the fire at around 1:45 a.m. and reported that flames could be seen from the parking area at the canyon.

Spencer Newman, the fields crew lead with the Box Elder County Fields Crew, told FOX 13 News on Sunday that they had about 20 people total actively engaging in handling the fire.

In all, Newman says, about a half-acre was burned due to the fire.

A handful of firefighters could be seen getting shuttled up and down the canyon throughout the morning and into the early afternoon to monitor the area.

"We're getting into that time — we are starting to get drier, longer, hotter days, fuels are starting to dry out, and I think we're going to be expecting more of this, you know, increasing fire behavior, the longer we get into the season," said Newman. "We've had a few little, small freeway fires, but this is the first one on the mountain."

FOX 13 News asked Newman how their crews train to handle fires, whether they are big or small.

Newman said the firefighters are always looking at local fire behavior, whether it's what they have seen in the past or what they could expect to see over time, to prepare for blazes big and small.

"That's a lot of your predictive weather services that are going to come into play there," he said. "We just try and prepare the best we can. We never really know what's going to happen with this."

As of Sunday afternoon, Newman said the fire is 70% contained. He says the cause is still under investigation but that it may have been human-caused.

People are being told to avoid the area until further notice.