by NICOLE CARDINALI Staff Writer
In and around Oak Creek Canyon, a slide fire continues to burn due to fires that started Tuesday, May 20 between Flagstaff and Sedona, Arizona.
A team of investigators from the U.S. Forest Service’s law enforcement wing are trying to find the cause of the fire, which is believed to have been human-caused.
The Slide fire has burned about 32 square miles, and continues to grow. This is stopping tourists that are usually visiting these parts of the Sedona area around this time of the year.
“I really hope they can stop the fire. I’ve heard that the area around where the fire is really beautiful and I really wanted to see it. I hope everything works out,” freshman Gabby Nagrowski said.
Slide Rock State Park, one of Arizona’s most-visited tourist spots, has been closed since the fire began May 20.
Road closures are also causing problems in the northern region of Arizona.
Evacuations have been lifted in all other places except Oak Creek Canyon from Slide Rock State Park to Sterling Springs Hatchery. One thousand people voluntarily evacuated after the pre-evacuation order.
About 1,000 firefighters, 22 crews, 29 engines, and nine helicopters have worked on the fire that has threatened 300 structures, including private homes, vacation resort cabins, and a Forest Service lookout tower.
On Monday, May 26, firefighters created a perimeter around the fire to stop the continuing growth.
This Slide Fire has burned approximately 20,369 acres of land over the past week, and is currently only 45 percent contained.
“I think it’s really crazy that the fire is still growing and it’s only 45 percent contained. At this rate, it seems they will never tame the fire,” freshman Shrina Parikh said.
Although there are difficult weather conditions such as high temperatures, low humidity and increasing winds, fire crews will continue to improve the west and south boundary lines they have set, and will patrol the north and east side to make sure the fire does not exceed the lines.
It is very difficult for the fire crews to contain the fire because of the dry weather, steep slopes, and extreme canyons.
Luckily, no houses have been destroyed, no deaths have occurred, and interior lands will continue to burn out.
Helicopters dumped 2,000 gallons of muddy water on the area of the Oak Creek Canyon on May 23 near Flagstaff, Arizona.
Fire crews are trying to prevent the fire from pushing into the communities of Forest Highlands and Kachina Village to the east, and minimize the potential for flooding.
These efforts have cost nearly $3.5 million, and crews are trying to stop the fire as quickly as possible to conserve money and resources.
By creating the protective barrier, fire crews have gotten themselves one step closer to containing the fire. They are currently strengthening containment lines and clearing debris on the western end. They plan to continue burnout operations, which have mostly been completed on the northern border.
“We’re in a good place right now. The folks, the crews, every resource has been working their heart out on this fire,” said Jim Pierson, incident commander trainee.
How long do you think it will take for them to extinguish this fire? What will they have to do to do so?