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They were three of the first Sedona Fire District personnel to arrive on the scene of the Slide Fire, which would become one of the largest the Sedona area and the Coconino National Forest has ever seen.A wildland firefighter battles the northern flank of Slide Fire on May 27 as it swelled to 21,227 acres. Sedona Fire District crews were the first firefighters on the scene as the blaze began near Slide Rock State Park on May 20. SFD crews went into action to save structures and get people out of the path of the fire as it rapidly spread through Oak Creek Canyon.

Battalion Chief Dave Cochrane, Capt. Patrick Ojeda and Capt. Eric Lewis arrived shortly after 4 p.m. on May 20 after someone coming through the canyon stopped at Station 5 to let them know they saw smoke and asked if campfires were allowed in the area. It didn’t take long before the fire district was inundated with calls regarding a quickly-spreading fire.

“When we got there, we noticed right away the rate of speed that it was spreading,” Lewis said. “Our first concern were the structures and getting people out of the path of the fire.”

Even though the fire district called for the canyon to be evacuated, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office handled the actual evacuation, which took about an hour. In all, the fire scorched 21,227 acres and cost nearly
$10 million to fight.

For the full story, see the Wednesday, June 11, edition of the Sedona Red Rock News.

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