Museum Fire

The Museum Fire has caused a State of Emergency, having spread over 1000 acres July 22, 2019. (Photo by Shannon Swain)

Tuesday, July 23 the Flagstaff community held a meeting at Flagstaff High School to address questions and to further inform the public about the Museum Fire.

Arizona Gov. Ducey declared a state of emergency in Coconino County as the fire burned over 1,400 acres. This fire is still burning and there is no clear answer as to when it will completely burn out.

Incident Commander of the Southwest Area Incident Management Team 2, Rich Nieto, stated that the fire is ten percent contained, there have been no structures lost and there have been no reported injuries.

Nieto also stated that there have been approximately 500 personnel fighting the fire and there has been $2.1 million in costs put into the efforts to end the fire and provide support for the community.

Due to the cloud coverage the past two nights, firefighters have not been able to survey using infrared, and it is unknown how much or how severely the areas are affected. However, the fire is not expected to grow in size a great deal.

"Size probably won't grow much, less than 200 acres...until it's fully contained." Said Rob Beery, Fire Behavior Analyst.

There are currently several areas that have evacuated including areas around Schultz Pass and Mt. Elden Lookout. Areas that are in "set", or the step preceding evacuation, include Magdalena and Locket Ranches. On the west these areas range from Marketplace to Loeptkey Trails as stated by Jim Driscoll, Coconino County Sheriff.

Due to the oncoming monsoon season and the recent rains that have struck the area, many speakers at the meeting stated that the increased humidity will be beneficial to fully containing the fire.

The increase of rains in addition to the scorching of land may lead to serious post-fire flooding for many areas. Coconino County Deputy Manager, Lucinda Andreani, said certain areas have the potential to see  five to ten times the flooding compared to normal monsoon season due to the fire damaging the Spruce Creek Watershed.

Members of the community are coming together to prepare for potential threats in the aftermath of the fire such as flooding and further spreading of the fire. Many community members have gotten together to help firefighters build sand bags for individuals in potential flooding areas. Bags can be picked up at several places around town including Coconino County High School.

For updates on the fire you can visit the government incident page, the Flagstaff city website or you can call the community information line at (928) 213-2990.