Slide Fire Remains Uncontained

By Laurel Morales, KJZZ and Gillian Ferris, KNAU
May 22, 2014

(Courtesy of the Coconino National Forest)
The Slide Fire was reported in the afternoon on May 20.
(Photo by Ryan Heinsius - KNAU)
The Slide Fire map as of Thursday morning.
(Photo by Ryan Heinsius - KNAU)
Flagstaff Fire Captain Bill Morse addresses the media Thursday.

Northern Arizona’s Slide Fire grew to 4,800 acres overnight. About 300 people have been evacuated from Oak Creek Canyon, and 3,000 are on standby just outside of Flagstaff.

Fire crews have made progress on the Slide Fire, building a line between the blaze and Flagstaff subdivisions. Flagstaff’s Fire Captain Bill Morse said midday Thursday that for now, they’re winning the battle.

"So the fire’s literally backing down towards the homes, not what we usually picture, a fire front moving directly at the homes where we can’t safely take a stand. It’s up on the slopes backing down toward them so crews are able to burn out against it take hose lines wrap around houses really safely aggressively support it," Morse said.

But Morse says they haven’t been able to contain the fire yet.

"The deal here is steep rugged terrain you can’t drive engines up the side of Oak Creek. Hand work boots on the ground guys out there building line, burning out. Now with the fire up higher we can use those large tankers the DC-10s that can fight across the flats," Morse said.

The fire has moved high enough on the ridge that crews are able to drop retardant from above.

Hundreds of firefighters from across the nation have joined the fight. At least 20 hotshot crews are on the scene, as well as firefighters from at least eight states and several tribal nations.

Air tankers dumped thousands of gallons of flame retardant on the fire Wednesday, battling high winds and what forest service officials have described as "the most difficult area of the Coconino National Forest on which to battle wildfires."

More strong wind gusts are expected Thursday. There are rain showers in the forecast, but typically ahead of those storms is dry lightning.

The fire has affected Memorial Day weekend plans for hikers and campers, as the Coconino National Forest is a popular area.

For additional information: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3874/

The Slide Fire incident management team has created a Facebook page to provide updates: https://www.facebook.com/SlideFireInfo

Updated 5/22/2014 at 12:55 p.m.