Slide Fire update: 7,500 acres, 5 percent contained

SEDONA, AZ - Fire crews were able to successfully get a handle on a growing wildfire in northern Arizona, officials said Thursday evening.

A fire official said the Slide Fire, which erupted Tuesday in Oak creek Canyon just north of Sedona, is expected to grow to 7,500-8,000 acres by Friday. That's roughly a 3,000 acre increase from what officials said earlier in the day.

However, officials said no structures have been lost as of Thursday. He also said crews were able to use burn out and other fire fighting resources to slow the progression of the fire.

An official said the fire is 5 percent contained during a Thursday evening media conference.

Officials with the Coconino County Sheriff's Office, Coconino County's Emergency Management Response Team, as well those with the Southwest Incident Management Team spoke at a community meeting held in Flagstaff.

Authorities said fire crews conducted burn out operations close to Highway 89A to further prevent the fire from spreading west. If this were to occur, those in nearby Mountainaire and Kachina Village could have to evacuate. As of Thursday, the fire remained 3 to 3 1/2 miles away.

Currently, residents in those areas are under pre-evacuation notices.

Officials were mindful of the fire's dangers, as they looked at giant flames shooting up the walls of the canyon and saw how hot the fire was burning in the tinder-dry drought conditions.

"The fuels are just so dry, entire trees are turning to ash," said Dick Fleishman, a spokesman for fire managers.

An official said during the community meeting if fire crews can successfully get ahead of the fire, it could be potentially contained with the next 7-10 days. He reiterated that number depends on how the fire continues to progress.

The official said crews were going to continue firefighting efforts throughout the night.

The weather may help even as winds picked up Thursday afternoon with the prospect of higher humidity and a chance of rain by Friday, Fleishman said.

However, he warned that thunderstorms could bring much-needed rain and moisture to dampen the blaze, but also lightning strikes that could start additional fires and powerful downdrafts that could push the blaze erratically in all directions.

An official said there are 850 personnel fighting the wildfire, including 20 hotshot crews, 10 Type 2 Initial Attack crews, five state crews, 50 engines, 10 water tenders, 5 heavy helicopters, 2 medium helicopters and 2 lightweight helicopters.

Authorities encouraged residents to signup for Coconino County's CodeRED emergency notification system, which would notify residents if any evacuation orders were issued.

Uniformed officers would also go door to door alerting residents to the evacuation order. Officials also told residents that if they were evacuated, they should expect to be away from their homes for 3-5 days.

The official said if that happened, security would be brought to those areas to protect owners' properties.

The Coconino County Emergency Manager said the call center has taken over 1,000 calls in the last two days from residents concerned about the wildfire.

The emergency manager also said that the local fire departments have received enough donations of food and water. He said if people wish to still donate, he encourages monetary donations to local non-profits aiding the firefighting effort.

As of Thursday evening, the estimated cost of the fire is approximately $250,000.

Stay with, ABC15 Mobile and ABC15 News for continued updates on the wildfires burning around the state.

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