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Slide Fire concerns could shift to landslides

PHOENIX -- Firefighters are gaining the upper hand on the Slide Fire near Sedona, Ariz., but climate experts are warning of more potential danger ahead.

Arizona State University climatologist Randy Cerveny said the canyon is one of the deepest and steepest in the state. Much of the brush and trees on the hillsides has now burned off and, once the monsoon arrives, it brings a new set of problems.

"Water simply goes straight down that canyon," he said. "The water cascades and brings the mud with it. You can get mudslides and landslides. It becomes a secondary disaster zone."

After the fire is out, rehabilitation teams will move into the canyon to shore up areas that could be flood-prone with straw and other measures.

Cerveny said he's concerned about Oak Creek, which could be packed with ash and brush from the runoff.

"The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality will probably have to monitor the water quality that's going through there."

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About the Author


Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.

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