A risky flood zone has been created in the aftermath of a wildfire that burned around northern Arizona’s Oak Creek Canyon, a report from forest officials said Friday.
According to experts, runoff and erosion from the Slide Fire could occur at a higher rate than usual during any future storm.
A report compiled by a Burned Area Emergency Response team found severe burns have resulted in heightened soil erosion, water, ash and debris flows. There is a potential for flows from rainstorms to occur anywhere from twice to eight times more than before, specialists said.
The fallout could also reach privately owned land.
The team said it is expecting a request for more than $80,000 in funding to be granted this week for Coconino National Forest. The money would go toward emergency protective measures such as storm patrols and protecting cultural sites inside the canyon. There are also plans for county emergency agencies to set up precipitation stations with systems that could trigger early warnings for residents.
The group took steps already on Monday to stabilize the area. Workers began installing warning signs and 20 miles of road-drainage structures in moderately or highly burned areas. Other strategies include cleaning inlets and outlets and flushing out culverts.
The Slide Fire, which was caused by people, burned 33 square miles.
The blaze began May 20 near Slide Rock State Park in the scenic canyon between Sedona and Flagstaff. It cost more than $10 million to fight.
About 300 residents and business owners were forced to evacuate.
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