The Slide Fire burned more than 21,000 acres in Oak Creek Canyon and forced hundreds of people to evacuate. For more than a week in May, the fire even threatened Flagstaff, the most populous city in northern Arizona. So the folks at Arizona Public Radio wondered, “What is the city’s emergency plan, and how has it changed from its early pioneer days?”
In late May of this year, wildfire swept through upper Oak Creek Canyon in northern Arizona. By the time firefighters contained it in early June, the Slide Fire had burned some 22,000 acres of chaparral, mixed conifers, and ponderosa pine forest.
Recently, Coconino National Forest officials announced that all forest lands in Oak Creek Canyon will close due to high flooding danger. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, with rain predicted later in the week, the start date of the closure has been moved up.
This week, the Coconino National Forest began an aggressive treatment of Oak Creek Canyon’s most severely burned areas from the Slide Fire. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, one part of that process is so-called heli-mulching.
With the Slide Fire fully contained, the burned areas of Oak Creek Canyon still pose risks to people and structures. As Arizona Public Radio’s Justin Regan reports, officials with the Coconino National Forest have sent in the Burned Area Emergency Response Team to assess the damage.
Many scientists say intense wildfires, like the Slide Fire in Oak Creek Canyon, underscore the urgency for forest restoration. Hydrogeologist Abe Springer studies how forest treatments, like thinning and prescribed burns, are impacting natural water systems. He say 80-85 percent of precipitation evaporates or transpires in northern Arizona's over crowded forests. Most of the rest runs off with very little left to recharge the aquifers.
Now that the smoke has settled and the most of the flames are out, we’re getting our first good look at how the Slide Fire changed the landscape of Oak Creek Canyon. Arizona Public Radio’s Aaron Granillo tours the canyon where the fire scorched more than 33 square miles.
The Slide Fire is now 55 percent contained and 21,067 acres. Crews continue mop-up operations and chipping and rehabilitation work. All burnouts are complete and crews are beginning to leave the area. Also, smoke levels are expected to decrease.
At 1 p.m. today, the mandatory evacuation order will be lifted for Oak Creek Canyon.