Forest Service warns of dangers from Slide Fire - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Forest Service warns of dangers from Slide Fire

Slide Fire / FILE PHOTO Slide Fire / FILE PHOTO

A report released Thursday on the Slide Fire in Oak Creek Canyon doesn't hold back in laying out the danger facing the burned-out area.

The U.S. Forest Service issued the report Thursday afternoon stating the biggest concern is the steeper slopes of Oak Creek Canyon is especially subject to debris flows, rockslides, flash flooding and erosion that could become concentrated flow or a landslide.

The report said in smaller streams which flow into larger bodies of water, the time until it peaks can be less than 30 minutes, allowing minimal time to react to a high intensity precipitation event.

At high risk are forest campgrounds, day use areas, the Sterling Spring Fish Hatchery and at least 75 homes.

Swimming and day use areas along nearly 9.5 miles of state route 89A are now subject to the same potential for rockfalls and debris flow.

State Forestry officials are in the midst of emergency treatment to prevent the effects of the Slide Fire.

They're using straw bales to anchor down the burned foundation across burned lands. They're implementing aerial seeding and aerial mulching along the hill slopes of weed-free grass which will reduce soil loss and prevent sediment and ash from getting into the water. Along Highway 231, crews will remove three culverts, clean 10 others and repair 20 miles of rolling dips and ditches in the mid- to high-burn areas.

Forest officials plan to install warning signs at all access travel ways into the burned area to prevent public entry. They're installing barricades at potential access points into closed areas of the fire. They're also pumping, sanitizing and closing three vault toilets in flood plains to prevent food waters from carrying contaminants to Oak Creek. There's also asbestos testing of a burned cabin adjacent to West Fork of Oak Creek.

The human-caused fire started on May 20 and took until June 4 to contain. It burned 21,227 acres and is estimated to have cost $10.1 million.

[Click here to read the full report (PDF)]

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