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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.”