SEDONA, Ariz. -- Coconino National Forest officials will be expanding the existing Slide Fire closure due to the risk of falling rocks and flash flooding.
Officials plan to close the Oak Creek Canyon area on July 7 or with the onset of the monsoon, whichever occurs first.
The proposed expansion will include National Forest land within Oak Creek Canyon beginning on the southern end near the Huckaby trailhead at Schnebly Hill Road, up to the top of the switchbacks on the north end of the canyon.
Officials said all developed recreation sites and vehicle pullouts along state Route 89A will be closed, prohibiting people from accessing the creek.
Officials said the expansion is for public safety after a risky flood zone was created in the aftermath of the Slide Fire, which burned around Oak Creek Canyon.
"We are taking this step due to risks associated with potential debris torrents and flooding, our limited ability to inform people dispersed along Oak Creek, and to reduce possible complications in Oak Creek Canyon during potential response and evacuation following these events," said Scott Russell, acting Coconino National Forest supervisor.
This closure only affects National Forest lands, so businesses in Oak Creek Canyon will remain open, as will SR 89A. The closure will not include the upper picnic level of Slide Rock State Park, but the Slide area in the creek will remain closed.
Other recreation sites that visitors can access include: Beaver Creek Picnic Site, Bull Pen Day Use Area, Crescent Moon Picnic Site, Lake Mary Boat Launch and Picnic Area, C.C. Cragin (Blue Ridge) Reservoir, Kinnikinick Lake, Sedona Wetlands Preserve, Sedona Community Pool with Splash Park, Dead Horse Ranch State Park and the Red Rock State Park.
The Slide Fire, which was human-caused, burned 33 square miles. The blaze began May 20 near Slide Rock State Park in the scenic canyon between Sedona and Flagstaff.
Authorities plan to test sirens in Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon on Thursday to let people know what to expect in an actual emergency. The sirens are set to go off around 2 p.m. in preparation for monsoon season.
An Oak Creek Canyon Information Hotline has been established at 928-203-7505.
For emergency alert and flood preparation information visit http://coconino.az.gov.
Oak Creek Canyon fire leaves risky flood zone
Authorities to test sirens in Oak Creek Canyon