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Slate Fire North Of Flagstaff Grows To 5,000 Acres Amid Windy, Warm Conditions

Coconino National Forest

A wildfire burning about 20 miles north of Flagstaff has grown to 5,000 acres with no containment. It’s burning in dry pine and juniper as firefighters contend with hot, windy conditions. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

Coconino National Forest officials say fire crews are taking a more indirect approach in containing the blaze for firefighter safety because of erratic, heavy wind gusts. Behavior of the Slate Fire has become more active today, but officials expect moderate conditions to return as winds die down.

Firefighters are conducting burnout operations and trying to direct the fire to the northeast away from private property at Cedar Ranch. They’re also attempting to prevent it from moving toward the Kachina Peaks Wilderness.

The wildfire was reported earlier this week near the top of Slate Mountain on the west side of Highway 180, but it eventually crossed the roadway. The highway remains closed indefinitely and travelers will have to find alternate routes to the Grand Canyon. Area trailheads and part of the Arizona National Scenic Trail also remain off limits. Fire managers say smoke could impact Kendrick Park and Wupatki National Monument. The cause of fire is under investigation.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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