Between Flagstaff and Sedona, in the Coconino County, the scenic route has plumes of smoke rising into the sky as a wildfire races over the dry and rocky terrain. Reported today, May 24, hundreds of firefighters are working to keep residents and other communities safe, as weather conditions continue to change throughout the day.
According to news reports, the fire started Tuesday night in the area known as, Oak Creek Canyon, charring 450 acres. But within 5 days, the fire has now spread to more than 7,000 acres. It’s a sad week as the Arizona wildfire charges through the popular tourist scenic area, nestled along the Mogollon Rim, best known for its picturesque scenes. What firefighters worry most about is keeping the fire at bay; not letting is cross state route 89A, because more than 300 homes would be in its path.
As the fire continues to char through the brittle peaks and valleys, the Arizona wildfire is now being called “The Slide Fire,” as it shifts “just north of Slide Rock State Park.” Firefighters have their hands full as they wade through the rocky terrain, chop back brush, and use common firefighting methods known as, “burnout operations,” said Tony Sciacca, a firefighter commander. Investigations are ongoing for the start of this fire and reports indicate it may have been started by a person, not by mother nature. Arizona is known for their thunder and lightening storms, which have caused some fires, but this case is leaning toward human fault. Small town businesses and residents in Northern Arizona typically count on and look forward to this holiday; instead they are forced to focus on evacuation orders. Some business owners decided that government officials waited to long implementing fire restrictions, and wished they would have acted sooner.
Yesterday, owner’s of Wanderlust Brewing Company, located in Flagstaff, Ariz., published an open letter on their Facebook page to the Coconino National Forest and the City of Flagstaff, describing their concerns.
“Several of our surrounding forests (Prescott and Tonto) have already taken the steps to implement [fire restrictions], and they are NOT currently battling a 7,500 acre blaze with a firefighting force the size of a small town.” The letter goes on suggesting they should’ve taken earlier measures to protect their communities, until waiting till it’s too late, and should have taken safer actions rather than worry about revenues. “The decision you made, no matter what the factors were, neglected the most important factors, and this is the people who live and work in this town.” This open letter has since received more than 300 likes, and 42 comments. Henry Teller wrote, “I can’t hit LIKE enough … wish all local business would write similar letters. Thank you Nate!” And within hours of this being posted miraculously a Coconino County-wide fire ban went into effect immediately Friday, May 23 at 10:30 a.m., according to a Coconino County news release.
The ban includes: “all open fires, campfires, and other pyrotechnic displays on private and public lands in the unincorporated areas of the County,” and other restrictions are included.