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4,830-acre wildfire prompts evacuations in Arizona tourist spot

By Michael Martinez, CNN
updated 6:46 PM EDT, Thu May 22, 2014
True Brown, left, of the Blue Ridge Hotshots, and Mark Adams of the Mormon Lake Hotshots take a high vantage point as spotters for those fighting a wildfire near Flagstaff, Arizona, on Friday, May 23. The fast-growing fire, dubbed the Slide Fire because it is just north of Slide Rock State Park, threatens several hundred homes and rental cabins in the area. True Brown, left, of the Blue Ridge Hotshots, and Mark Adams of the Mormon Lake Hotshots take a high vantage point as spotters for those fighting a wildfire near Flagstaff, Arizona, on Friday, May 23. The fast-growing fire, dubbed the Slide Fire because it is just north of Slide Rock State Park, threatens several hundred homes and rental cabins in the area.
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The Slide Fire in Arizona
The Slide Fire in Arizona
The Slide Fire in Arizona
The Slide Fire in Arizona
The Slide Fire in Arizona
The Slide Fire in Arizona
The Slide Fire in Arizona
The Slide Fire in Arizona
The Slide Fire in Arizona
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: About 300 homes and business are evacuated in near Arizona state park
  • Hundreds of homes, resort cabins are threatened
  • Firefighters expect "increased fire behavior" in area

(CNN) -- About 300 Arizona homes and businesses were evacuated as a 4,830-acre wildfire raged near Slide Rock State Park outside the retirement and tourist destination of Sedona, authorities said Thursday.

In all, a two- to three-mile area that included a forest service lookout tower was emptied of people, from Slide Rock State Park to the Sterling Springs Hatchery, said the online Incident Information System, or InciWeb.

About 840 personnel, including 15 hotshot crews and three air tankers, have been battling the blaze, which was 0% contained late afternoon Thursday.

"As the day warms, firefighters expect increased fire behavior, with the most active portion of the fire toward the northwest to Harding Point. Heavy smoke is likely again in the greater Flagstaff area," authorities said.

Fire torches Arizona, residents prepare

The fire originated Tuesday in an area near Slide Rock State Park, four miles north of Sedona, authorities said. The cause of the fire is under investigation, authorities said, adding that it was probably started by a person.

In all, about 3,200 residents in Coconino County were given pre-evacuation notices.

Frank Garrison owns 20 rental cabins in the area.

"It's my home, my property, my livelihood," he told CNN affiliate KTVK on Wednesday. "Everything."

He had packed his pickup and was in a line of cars of people leaving the area.

The Butterfly Garden Inn said it was able to get all staff members and guests out.

"We are praying for the safety of our beautiful inn and for the brave firefighters working tirelessly to save it," the inn said on its Facebook page. "Please help us pray for a miracle."

Connor Packard stood atop his mother-in-law's roof, spraying water from a garden hose. "Just spraying down the roof and the yard just in case any embers float down," he told KTVK. "There's already a bunch of ash floating down."

The Slide Fire, as it has been named, is burning an area called Oak Creek Canyon. The hilly terrain and 30-mph wind gusts Wednesday made it difficult for firefighters.

The area is popular in the summer with tourists looking to escape the heat. Fodor's Travel named it one of the top 10 state parks in the United States. The state park is a 43-acre historic apple farm, according to the Slide Rock website.

No one has been injured because of the fire, the forest service said. By Wednesday, its smoke had drifted into Utah, 150 miles away.

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CNN's Steve Almasy, Shawn Nottingham and Ana Cabrera contributed to this report.

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