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Monsoon causes landslide concern in post-Slide Fire areas

PHOENIX — Much of the land that was burned in last month’s Slide Fire in Oak Creek Canyon has not rejuvenated, and now monsoons have dumped strong rains in the area, increasing risks for drivers.

The Arizona Department of Transportation is warning drivers passing along State Route 89A that the risk of flash floods and mudslides is currently very high.

Over the Fourth of July weekend, ADOT Spokesman Dustin Krugel said there have already been three closures.

“In each instance, we had water that had crossed the roadway and debris that flowed onto the roadway,” he said.

Krugel said ADOT has decided to stage heavy equipment along the route as a way to quickly respond to incidents.

“One of those things that we’re doing is actually staging heavy equipment in the Oak Creek Canyon area, including road graders, and when this is occurring, we’re going to have our own staff that is patrolling the route and keeping an eye on things,” he said.

The equipment will also be used to take a proactive approach aimed at minimizing damage or delays in the event of a mudslide or flash flood.

“Before the storm, we’re also clearing culverts and roadside ditches to make sure that there’s no debris in them, because we want to make sure when the floods come there is a place for the water to go,” he explained.

Drivers should use extra caution when passing through the area and Krugel said it’s very important for drivers to obey signs, not cross flooded washes and pay attention to weather reports to avoid the area during storms.