The Slide Fire: One Year Later


One year ago today, a fire began just north of Slide Rock State Park near Sedona. That blaze, the Slide Fire, ultimately scorched more than 21,000 acres in the picturesque Oak Creek Canyon before firefighters brought it under control.

Despite the blaze, the canyon is already showing signs of rebirth. Photographer Derek von Briesen, a frequent contributor to Arizona Highways, has been hiking and making photos in Oak Creek Canyon since shortly after the fire. Earlier this month, he passed along these two images and described "the heady scent of ponderosa pines warming in the springtime sun" and "leaves glistening in post-spring-shower rays of sun."

"Oak Creek's near-record flood levels in the first week of March cleared out a significant amount of the hundreds of tons of silt clogging the watershed," von Briesen said. "I haven't walked it all, but it sure looks nice after last October's rather depressing visit."

Despite these beautiful scenes, it will be decades before the area fully recovers. And though the Slide Fire's cause is still officially classified as "unknown," officials have said it was likely started by humans.

So, on this unfortunate anniversary (and as Arizona's fire season gets underway in earnest), we'd like to remind everyone of the importance of proper fire management. Don't start a campfire where fires are not permitted. Where they are, use established fire rings and pans. Keep them small. And above all, make sure your fire is completely out before you leave your campsite. The U.S. Forest Service provides these guidelines:

  • Allow wood to burn completely to ash.
  • Pour water over the fire, dousing all embers.
  • Stir campfire ashes and embers with a shovel.
  • Scrape sticks and logs to remove any embers.
  • Stir the ash pile to ensure that it is cold and wet to the touch.
  • If you don't have water, use dirt, and mix it with embers until the pile is cool. Don't simply bury the fire; it might smolder and catch roots ablaze.

Wildfires are a part of nature, but human-caused wildfires don't have to be. Please do your part to help Arizona avoid another Slide Fire.

Photos courtesy of Derek von Briesen

Add new comment