Hundreds of Firefighters Battle Arizona Wildfire

A wildfire that started in a scenic canyon snaked toward Flagstaff, prompting residents of outlying areas to prepare to flee and blanketing the city in smoke, reports Yakima Herald.

The human-caused Slide Fire started Tuesday and had burned 7.5 square miles in and around Oak Creek Canyon, a scenic recreation area along a highway between Sedona and Flagstaff.

Fire incident commander Tony Sciacca said the fire was 3 to 3 1/2 miles away from the residential areas of Forest Highlands and Kachina Village, where 3,200 residents remained under pre-evacuation warnings.

A primary focus of firefighting efforts will be to pinch off the fire where it has reached the top of the canyon’s northeast corner to keep it from burning northward up a wash toward the residential areas, said Dick Fleishman, a spokesman for fire managers.

Sciacca said 500 firefighters were assigned to the fire Thursday, with an additional 200 personnel expected by later Thursday as more crews and engines arrive.

The weather may help, with weaker wind and slightly higher humidity expected Thursday and a chance of rain by Friday, Fleishman said.

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