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Slide Fire North of Sedona Grows to 7,500 Acres

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The wildfire that started Tuesday afternoon just north of Sedona, near Slide Rock State Park, is up to about 7,500 acres.

The firefighting effort, which now involves more than 800 people, has so far been able to keep the fire west of State Route 89A, which has been one of the goals of containing the fire.

See also:
-Thursday: Slide Fire North of Sedona Up to 4,500 Acres
-10 Worst Wildfires in Modern Arizona History

The highway, which provides one of the best drives in the state of Arizona, has been closed north of Sedona and south of Flagstaff since Tuesday due to its proximity to the fire. Coincidentally, part of that same stretch of highway was scheduled to be closed for five weeks, starting next week, for paving and rock containment.

In addition to the fire being kept west of State Route 89A, there have been no reports of any structures being damaged by the fire. The Forest Service has said that about 300 structures are threatened by the fire, and although there have been warnings of evacuations in a couple of subdivisions, they've only been warnings up to this point.

The Forest Service also estimates 5 percent containment of the fire, which is the first reported containment since the fire started.

Here's a summary from the Forest Service of what was going on yesterday:

Today (Thursday):
Crews continued to hold the fire west of Highway 89A and south of Fry Canyon. A small spot fire occurred across the northern line into an area that was previously thinned in 2006. Because this area was previously treated, the spot fire was unable to grow and crews quickly extinguished it. Hotshot crews also worked to create fire line across the Pumphouse Wash near the Hwy 89A 'switchbacks' to control the east flank and prevent further spread east. Winds increased to 18-22mph with gusts of 32, temperatures were in the 70s. As the day continued to warm, firefighters saw an increase in fire behavior, with the most active portion of the fire toward the northwest to Harding Point. Firefighters observed active fire in the East Pocket area, but previously dropped retardant was able to help control growth.

Tonight (Thursday):
Firefighters will be working throughout the lower canyon to monitor fire activity and conduct burnout operations as necessary. Overnight downslope winds will likely continue to drive the fire down canyon. Erratic winds may also be present producing moderate to high fire behavior. Crews will continue to work along FSR 535 and FSR 231 preparing for additional burnout operations tomorrow.

Fire investigators believe the fire is human-caused, but it looks like they're still trying to track down exactly what happened:

Law Enforcement is seeking any information the public may have regarding the start of the Slide Fire and anyone of suspicion in the area on the day the fire started between Slide Rock State Park and Half Way Picnic Area. The public should call Forest Service Law Enforcement at 928-527-3511 if they have any information that might assist law enforcement in the investigation.

On the next page, check out some great photos of the fire and firefighting efforts taken by Brady Smith, a public-affairs officer with the Forest Service:

For more photos, check out the Coconino National Forest's Flickr page.

Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX.
Follow Matthew Hendley at @MatthewHendley.

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