4,830-acre wildfire prompts evacuations in Arizona

4,830-acre wildfire prompts evacuations in Arizona
CNN
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Thursday, May 22, 2014 - 1:06pm

(CNN) -- Arizona authorities evacuated residents and a forest service lookout tower at Slide Rock State Park on Thursday as a 4,830-acre wildfire raged near Sedona, a retirement and tourist destination renowned for its red rock formations.

The number of evacuees wasn't immediately available, but authorities reported that a two- to three-mile area was evacuated, from Slide Rock State Park to the Sterling Springs Hatchery, said the online Incident Information System, or InciWeb.

Authorities had said that about 300 structures, homes and resort cabins were threatened by the fire, in addition to the lookout tower. About 840 personnel, including 15 hotshot crews and three air tankers, have been battling the blaze.

"As the day warms, firefighters expect increased fire behavior, with the most active portion of the fire toward the northwest to Harding Point. Heavy smoke is likely again in the greater Flagstaff area," authorities said Thursday on InciWeb.

The fire originated Tuesday in an area near Slide Rock State Park, four miles north of Sedona, authorities said. The cause of the fire is under investigation, authorities said, adding that it was probably started by a person.

In all, about 3,200 residents in Coconino County were given pre-evacuation notices.

Frank Garrison owns 20 rental cabins in the area.

"It's my home, my property, my livelihood," he told CNN affiliate KTVK on Wednesday. "Everything."

He had packed his pickup and was in a line of cars of people leaving the area.

The Butterfly Garden Inn said it was able to get all staff members and guests out.

"We are praying for the safety of our beautiful inn and for the brave firefighters working tirelessly to save it," the inn said on its Facebook page. "Please help us pray for a miracle."

Connor Packard stood atop his mother-in-law's roof, spraying water from a garden hose.

"Just spraying down the roof and the yard just in case any embers float down," he told KTVK. "There's already a bunch of ash floating down."

The Slide Fire, as it has been named, is burning an area called Oak Creek Canyon. The hilly terrain and 30-mph wind gusts Wednesday made it difficult for firefighters.

The area is popular in the summer with tourists looking to escape the heat. Fodor's Travel named it one of the top 10 state parks in the United States.

The state park is a 43-acre historic apple farm, according to the Slide Rock website.

No one has been injured because of the fire, the forest service said. By Wednesday, its smoke had drifted into Utah, 150 miles away.

CNN's Steve Almasy, Shawn Nottingham and Ana Cabrera contributed to this report.

The-CNN-Wire
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