Favorable Weather Conditions Aid Crews Battling the Slide Fire

May 23, 2014

Crews continue to battle the 7,500-acre Slide Fire near Flagstaff. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, favorable weather could bring some relief in fighting the fire that’s now 5 percent contained.

Incident commander Tony Sciacca at Friday's morning briefing at Ft. Tuthill.
Credit Ryan Heinsius

Firefighters are taking advantage of decreased winds and a chance of rain in battling the Slide Fire. Close to a thousand personnel are on scene. So far, they’ve prevented the fire from reaching Flagstaff, but managers say control of the blaze is still tenuous.

Tony Sciacca is the incident commander on the Slide Fire.

“Those winds could change, run things up-slope. We get an ember across that line, we’re back to where we were 36 hours ago,” he says.

A map of the Slide Fire as of Friday morning. The blaze has not crossed Highway 89A to the east, nor has it jumped Forest Road 535 to the north.
Credit Ryan Heinsius

Forest officials say they’ll conduct air operations today in an attempt to douse the flames.  

The fire broke out Tuesday near Slide Rock State Park in Oak Creek Canyon and quickly spread north above the rim. More than 3,000 residents of Kachina Village and Forest Highlands south of Flagstaff remain on notice to evacuate their homes should the fire spread east of Highway 89A.

Sciacca says one of the main goals of the operation is to protect the communities.

“We are working very hard to get those people a little bit more relief and a little more comfort about being in their houses. When you’re poised on the wildland-urban interface and you live in it, this is some of the outcome to it,” he says.

The Slide Fire was human-caused and is being investigated. So far, no injuries have been reported and no structures have been burned.

A view of the Slide Fire's massive smoke plume from the NAU campus Thursday evening.
Credit Ryan Heinsius