As the Museum Fire continues to burn on nearly 2,000 acres in Flagstaff, officials are closely monitoring smoke impacts to local communities. With a drying trend in the forecast for the weekend those effects could intensify.
Meteorologists predict a brief hiatus of monsoon activity throughout the region into Monday. Warm temperatures and lower humidity could increase the fire’s activity pushing smoke east and northeast of the burn area.
According to air quality officials with the Museum Fire management team, areas in and near Flagstaff will experience mostly good and moderate air quality. But momentary spikes in unhealthy smoke are possible.
"If people see, smell or taste smoke they’re likely getting exposure to it and should limit their physical activity, should seek to stay inside with doors and windows closed … even heathy people should try to limit their exposure," says Eve Wolters, a division manager with the Coconino County Health and Human Services Department.
She says those with asthma, heart or lung issues as well as children and the elderly should take extra precautions. Managers have set up four temporary air monitors throughout Flagstaff, which the public can see online.
The National Weather Service is predicting the return of regular monsoon moisture Tuesday, which could limit the Museum Fire’s activity and curtail the smoke impacts.