A wildfire near Arizona’s Slide Rock State Park has spread to cover more than 4,500 acres of land between Flagstaff and Sedona, with roughly 500 firefighters called in to control the blaze and evacuations mounting.
Authorities have already evacuated resorts and campgrounds within the park, which sits in the northern portion of the state. They have also warned close to 3,200 residents in communities near Flagstaff to be ready to evacuate if the wildfire continue to spread.
“South to southwest winds will still be an issue, particularly in the afternoon, through Thursday, sending a plume of smoke toward the Flagstaff area,” said Weather.com senior meteorologist Jon Erdman. “There is a chance of showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening Friday and Saturday. If these thundershowers aren’t the dry variety, they may be of some help for the fire fight.”
The Arizona wildfire has prompted the closure of a main road between Sedona and Flagstaff and threatened activities at Slide Rock State Park, which is popular with tourists for its natural rock water slides.
The fire comes close to the one-year anniversary of the tragic Prescott fire that killed 19 firefighters on a Hotshot crew.
The Arizona wildfire has been particularly difficult to battle, especially around Slide Rock State Park. Fire crews are facing steep terrain and thick pine forests, along with strong winds that are pushing flames quickly through the dry conditions.
The conditions also make it difficult for firefighters to remain in contact using radios, said Bill Morse, a Flagstaff Fire Department captain and a spokesman for firefighting managers.
But Morse noted that crews will have some extra help after Southern California wildfires came under control.
“Fortunately the fires in San Diego have calmed down enough for the resources to be released here,” Morse said.
Slide Rock State Park is not the only part of Arizona facing wildfires. A separate fire has burned roughly 200 acres near Cordes Junction and caused Interstate 17, a major traffic route between Phoenix and northern Arizona.