By Virginia Volkman, Library Director
Sedona AZ (June 5, 2015) – Sedona Public Library has hosted many exhibits and displays over the years. The annual quilt show attracts people from near and far, filling the space with color. There have been displays of artwork, and displays documenting special places such as the Verde River and even outer space. Our current exhibit is one that touches residents on a very personal level.
Through June 15, the Library is hosting the spectacular Slide Fire Story: A Photographic Tribute to Oak Creek Canyon, as a demonstration of our deep appreciation to the firefighters, public safety personnel, and forest and conservation crews who worked and continue to work to protect our community and our beloved Oak Creek Canyon. The collection recently received rave reviews from thousands of visitors at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff during a four-month exhibition.
The exhibit is one that records a period of time that affected local residents in a profound way. The Slide Fire scorched over 25,000 acres of forest in the Canyon and forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents who live along Oak Creek. For over two weeks in the spring of 2014, Sedona residents spent day after day choking on smoke and ash from the largest fire in the recorded history of the Coconino National Forest.
The Slide Fire exhibit tells the story of the fire’s dramatic race up the canyon and of the strategies and technologies that over 1,200 hard-working firefighters employed to control its fury. The exhibit also gives the community and visitors a chance to reflect on how important the Canyon is to the residents of Sedona and Northern Arizona.
The inspiration for the exhibit came to Rotarian David Simmer before the Slide Fire flames were extinguished and the air in Oak Creek Canyon and surrounding communities was clear again.
Members of both Rotary Clubs in Sedona donated funds to create the exhibit, gathered photographs, recruited volunteers to assemble and promote the exhibition, and solicited sponsors for the event. The Sedona Arts Center served as the first exhibition venue.
At the Library, people have been gathering around the exhibit, one year after the fire, and the reactions are powerful. As I read the storyboards and marveled at the quality of the photographs, I found myself talking to others, and conversations flowed freely. Everyone expressed gratitude to the personnel involved.
We’re now able to look back at that time and realize how absolutely fortunate we were that no lives were lost and property damage was averted. The photographs show how close we came to having a less favorable result and how close firefighters were to the flames.
We invite you to view the Slide Fire Story during these hours at our West Sedona location on White Bear Road: Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m
The 2015 “Every Hero Has a Story” summer reading program will also be paying tribute to our firefighters. Plan to be at the Library on July 15 at 11 a.m., when our local fire department will offer an up-close look at fire equipment and vehicles.
Sedona Public Library is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Donations and grants allow us to continue to offer free and innovative services to residents and visitors. Your tax-deductible donation may be sent to: Sedona Public Library, 3250 White Bear Road, Sedona, AZ 86336.