By Chief Kris Kazian, Sedona Fire District
Sedona AZ (August 27, 2014) – Thanks to the generosity of many wonderful people, the Sedona Fire District, U.S. Forest Service, Coconino County Sheriff, Coconino County Search and Rescue, and Coconino County Emergency Management have received the backing they needed to deal with the Slide Fire and its aftermath.
From the moment smoke was reported in Oak Creek Canyon on May 20, 2014, until the blaze was contained on June 4 and 1,200 firefighters left their duties, the community remained supportive of these agencies and their commitment to the safety of residents and guests in the Sedona area. It was immediately apparent that the fire would be complex and difficult to fight based on terrain, location, and low moisture and humidity, and the potential of losing homes along Oak Creek Canyon was high. In the end, the agencies tasked with dealing with the Slide Fire can proudly say there were no significant injuries and no homes lost.
Among the positive outcomes of the Slide Fire is awareness of public safety. After the Slide Fire Disaster Relief Fund was established with $10,000 by the Arizona Community Foundation, the fund grew to more than $23,000 with the generous gifts of many people in our community, around the state, and beyond.
Grants from the fund will be used to focus agency efforts on maintaining our area’s safety. Emphasis has been placed on mitigating the post-fire effects that could still have a great impact on our community. The potential for mudslides, rockslides, and flooding has a high likelihood over the monsoon season or during the upcoming winter events when we are most prone for significant flooding. Agencies have been working collectively to ensure we have a comprehensive emergency response plan that accounts for our residents, visitors, and those traveling through.
Funds from the Arizona Community Foundation are being deployed strategically to address high–priority needs, the first of which is communications among those working in the area. Satellite communication devices, recently purchased thanks to a grant from the Slide Fire Disaster Response Fund, will be used to send text messages in areas where no cellular service exists. These 15 devices have been distributed to the agencies and responders.
Working together, the Sedona Fire District, U.S. Forest Service, Coconino County Sheriff, Coconino County Search and Rescue, and Coconino County Emergency Management have identified the need to create a media campaign to ensure their expectations of the public during an emergency are ever present in our community. The agencies have requested funding to help with the creation and distribution of posters that can be an effective method of reminding people of the dangers in specific situations they may encounter.
In light of the active fire season occurring along the west coast, these partner agencies are working together to avoid another fire of the same magnitude as the Slide Fire in our area. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and the public’s interest in making our community a safer place is very much appreciated.
The Sedona Community Foundation is a permanent philanthropic endowment for the enduring benefit of the community, securing, managing and allocating donors’ gifts for charitable purposes in the Sedona area. The foundation’s local advisory board is committed to meeting the charitable needs of the community and helping donors reach their philanthropic goals. It is an affiliate of the Arizona Community Foundation, which assists in the management of capital gifts, both living and testamentary. For more information about the Sedona Community Foundation, contact Foundation Manager Leslie Hunt at 928-282-2042 or email@example.com.