FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Officials said Sunday that they were slowly making progress in controlling a wildfire burning in a northern Arizona canyon that typically would draw many visitors over the Memorial Day weekend.
The fire covered 21 square miles and is 25 percent contained, up from 5 percent the day before.
"It will still be a lot of work to be done before those (containment) numbers will increase significantly," fire spokesman Rico Smith said.
The Slide Fire has grown in the last two days as crews set fires to rob the blaze of its natural forest fuels.
The human-caused fire has been burning since Tuesday around Oak Creek Canyon, a scenic recreation area along the highway between Sedona and Flagstaff that would normally be filed with tourists as Memorial Day approaches. Slide Rock State Park, one of the most-visited tourist spots in Arizona, has been closed.
The goals for fire managers are to protect the 300 structures threatened in Oak Creek Canyon, keep the fire from pushing into the communities of Forest Highlands and Kachina Village to the east, and minimize the potential for flooding.
Smith said that fire officials expect to lift a pre-evacuation warning at noon Monday for the 3,200 residents of those two communities. Mandatory evacuations will likely remain in place in Oak Creek Canyon from Slide Rock State Park to Sterling Springs Hatchery.
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