A First Look Inside the Museum Fire Burn Area

Jul 25, 2019

Crews are still working to suppress the Museum Fire in Flagstaff that stands at nearly 2,000 acres with 12 percent containment. Today media were allowed to tour the fire from a safe vantage point.  KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

A log smolders Thursday from burnout operations conducted by firefighters earlier in the week.
Credit Ryan Heinsius / KNAU

Charred grass, pinyon and juniper stumps still smolder from a burnout operation earlier this week along Mount Elden Lookout Road. Firefighters lit hundreds of acres near more than two dozen homes to slow the fire’s growth near its western perimeter. The lower flanks of the Dry Lake Hills where the Museum Fire started are visible. They show a mix of heavily burned areas as well as stands of still-green ponderosa pines.

Charred grass, pinyon and juniper off Elden Lookout Road on Thursday where crews conducted burnouts. The hills in the background were a mix of heavily burned forest and still-green ponderosas.
Credit Ryan Heinsius / KNAU

Managers are using lower intensity fire, or burnouts, to reduce soil sterilization and help cut down on post-fire flooding.

The Thu, July 25 map of the Museum Fire burn area.
Credit Ryan Heinsius / KNAU

"By sending the fire to a stable place … where we can make a stand and light off of this road a ways up with a good anchor line like we passed down below moving the fire to a safe more controllable manner it takes a lot of the steam off of the fire as it comes off the hills," says Joe Zwierzchowski, a spokesperson with the Type 1 Incident Management Team.

The Thu, July 25 map of the Museum Fire burn area.
Credit Ryan Heinsius / KNAU

This week a federal Burned Area Emergency Response Team will begin assessing the recovery of some terrain. They’ll also try to mitigate potential flooding that could impact communities and neighborhoods below.