Crews Battle Wind-Whipped Wildfire In
Scenic Arizona Canyon
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[May 22, 2014]
By David Schwartz
PHOENIX (Reuters) - A major wind-whipped
fire burned through a popular scenic canyon in Arizona on Wednesday,
ballooning to 4,500 acres and threatening about 300 residences and
businesses, fire officials said.
About 500 firefighters were battling the so-called Slide Fire late
on Wednesday afternoon and more than 3,000 residents from two
subdivisions were put on alert for possible evacuation near Oak
Creek Canyon, about 120 miles north of Phoenix.
An undetermined number of residents along a 2-mile (4-km)stretch
near the canyon had already been evacuated, officials said. They
said the blaze was burning about 3 to 4 miles from the nearest
"The fire has really been active and very aggressive," said Brady
Smith, a Coconino Forest Service spokesman. "We really have a big
job on our hands."
Smith said sustained winds with gusts of up to 35 miles per hour (56
km per hour) caused the blaze to roar. The fire, which has been
creeping up steep canyon walls and at one point eclipsed the canyon
rim, is at zero percent containment.
Crews are stationed above and below the fire, which has been moving
to the north. Additional personnel were expected to arrive,
including an elite Type 1 incident management team that was to
deploy on Wednesday night.
The fire, believed to be human-caused, broke out at about 4 p.m. on
Tuesday north of Slide Rock State Park, a popular recreation area.
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The American Red Cross has set up an emergency shelter at a middle
school in nearby Flagstaff, Arizona, for those forced to flee their
(Reporting by David Schwartz in Phoenix; Editing by Dan Whitcomb,
James Dalgleish, Cynthia Johnston and Mohammad Zargham)
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