Slide Fire: Flagstaff Pre-Evacuation Notice Lifted Monday
Residents of two neighborhoods in Flagstaff got some good news Monday. A pre-evacuation notice for them to be ready to leave their homes if the Slide Fire burned closer has been lifted.
Robert Rowley, who heads up Coconino County’s Department of Emergency Management, says officials were glad to see residents respond to the call to be ready to leave home.
“We’ve been training for this and conducting exercises for this over the last several years,” Rowley said. “All of that played into the success of being able to get the messaging out.”
Rowley advises residents to continue to monitor fire conditions and updates until the flames are extinguished.
A week after it sparked, the Slide Fire has burned 18,500 acres in northern Arizona and is now 35 percent contained.
Firefighters are expecting strong winds Wednesday but they say the worst is behind us.
Flagstaff Fire Captain Bill Morse says crews have burnt a ring all the way around the fire. In some places that ring is a half mile wide. And at the head of the fire in the northwest corner he says that line is a mile wide.
"We’ve got it we’ve got a really solid line burnt well in from the perimeter. Now it’s a matter of really cooling that, mopping it up," Morse said.
Morse says after anticipated strong winds test that line in the next day or so, authorities will be able to call it contained.
Morse and many other firefighters in the region have been preparing for fire in northern Arizona’s Oak Creek Canyon for a long time.
"For 15 years every firefighter in this region has played this exact scenario through in our heads a thousand times and never once did any of us in any of those in those scenarios picture zero loss of structures, zero loss of lives and being able to stop that fire before it got going further," Morse said.
He said thinning and prescribed burns have kept this fire from becoming catastrophic.
Morse said the next step will be demobilizing crews and engines so the costs come down. Fire officials say some of the fire crews are being reassigned as they gain control over the blaze. More than 1,200 personnel were fighting the fire at its peak.
So far the tab is $3.5 million.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Updated 5/27/2014 at 1:40 p.m.