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The Slide Fire continues to burn north of Sedona, swallowing more than 20,328 acres of forest.The Slide Fire

In regards to wildfires around Northern Arizona affecting Sedona, the Slide Fire is now bigger than the 15,075-acre Schultz Fire, the 836-acre La Barranca Fire and the 4,317-acre Brins Fire combined. Forest and fire officials said Friday, May 23, that the blaze could burn as much as 23,000 acres when all is said and done.

We have followed the growth of the Slide Fire ever since we heard the first calls on our newsroom scanner calling Sedona Fire District crews to a staging area at Slide Rock State Park. At its peak, more than 1,200 firefighting crews from all over the Southwest were on the line, trimming brush and setting back burns to contain the fire once it reached burned-out areas.

We posted updates on our website and Facebook page as we learned details about containment and increasing acreage from fire officials on the line, as well as posting pictures from our staff, readers and local fire crews.

Thanks to technological advances, we have been able to post 3D maps overlaid on terrain through GoogleEarth, so residents know which of their favorite locations in the canyon have been most affected. Once homes in the canyon were no longer at risk, the biggest concern is West Fork, one of the most stunningly beautiful parts of Arizona.

Every morning for a week, residents have also awoken to smoky skies, limited visibility and the smell of burned wood as well as air quality conditions listed as hazardous by the Arizona Department of Environmental quality. Readers have been able to gauge hourly air quality measurements through our website. We advise residents to keep doors and windows closed at night and limit activity outside during peak particulate, especially if they have respiratory problems.

The raging Slide Fire overshadowed Memorial Day weekend, traditionally a major day for tourist visits and resident get-togethers in Sedona. The day is usually a progression of memorial services in the morning, Oak Creek swimming around noon and barbecuing in the afternoon. This year, most people I know spent the day inside, only venturing out when the skies cleared by mid-afternoon.

While Memorial Day is a time to thank soldiers who fell fighting battles in past wars, this year, we also thanked the firefighters for their current battle against the Slide Fire. I couldn’t help but also remember the 19 firefighters who died battling the Yarnell Hill Fire last year and hoped no one would be in similar danger battling the blaze in the treacherous terrain north of Sedona.

To all who’ve worn a uniform and lost their lives saving others, we honor you.

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