June 2006

AZBW News Breaks June 19, 2006


(Phoenix, AZ -- Monday, 12:00 pm, July 19, 2006)  - The Brins wildfire in Sedona spread into Oak Creek Canyon near Slide Rock State Park Sunday night and firefighters are continuing to fight the blaze using air tankers.

State Parks staff evacuated the public from Slide Rock State Park on Sunday afternoon after the fire had been seen on Brins Mesa about 4 miles to the southeast and ash began to fall in the park.  

There is no estimate as to when the park will open again.

"We wanted to take every precaution to protect the public so we cleared out the swimming area and closed the park," said Regional Manager Keith Ayotte.

"The fire hot shot crews and strike teams have operations based at the park now and they always have a pumpkin pool there full of water which can be used by the helicopters to fight the fire."

The park is nestled in the natural beauty of the red rock canyon walls with Oak Creek tumbling over the smooth red rocks of the canyon at 4,000 feet elevation.   

In the 1920's the ingenious, imaginative Pendley family suspended a flume system 500 feet from the canyon floor and dug lengthy ditches to bring water to the apple orchards which offered 13 varieties of apples for sale.

Slide Rock was named for a stretch of slippery creek bottom adjacent to the historic Pendley homestead and is located on National Forest land jointly managed by Arizona State Parks and the U.S. Forest Service.

The park was dedicated in October 1987, and placed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 23, 1991.  The site was once the 43-acre Pendley apple farm Frank L. Pendley, acquired under the Homestead Act in 1910. 

As one of the few homesteads left intact in the canyon today, Slide Rock State Park is an excellent example of early agricultural development.

The Slide Rock 775-square-foot "Brown house" was built in 1927, as well as the 4,026-square-foot Pendley homestead house, and the 6,696-square-foot
apple packing barn.  

The three tiny historic tourist cabins were built in 1933. There are also maintenance buildings, two ranger residences, a general store, a contact station, restroom buildings and an historic pump house at Slide Rock State Park.

Recently volunteers spent thousands of hours renovating the historic apple packing shed and were able to get the historic apple sorter repaired and up and running again.  

"We have a metal roof on the historic Pendley apple shed so it isn't in as much fire danger, but the old Pendley home and all the other buildings could be impacted by falling embers coming onto the park," continued Ayotte.

Approximately 2500 people a day visit this State Park in the summer and enjoy the cool Oak Creek with their families with a total of about 175,000 visitors coming to the park each year.  Fire restrictions are in place in all of Arizona's 27 State Parks so call before you leave to camp.  

For more information about the State Parks department and this fire see the website at www.azstateparks.com or call (602) 542-4174.