Evacuation order issued for Museum Fire near Flagstaff

Jul 22, 2019, 8:50 AM | Updated: 9:44 pm
(Twitter Photo/@CoconinoCounty)...
(Twitter Photo/@CoconinoCounty)
(Twitter Photo/@CoconinoCounty)

PHOENIX — The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office issued an evacuation order for an area north of Flagstaff on Monday evening as firefighters continued to battle the Museum Fire.

The order was set to go into effect at 6 p.m. for people living, working and accessing homes from Mount Elden Lookout Road, including residents east of Weatherford Road with access on Mount Elden Lookout

“The evacuation is to help support burnout operations and prevent the fire from coming into those neighborhoods,” Flagstaff Police Sgt. Charles Hernandez told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Hernandez said it wasn’t yet known how many people would be impacted by the evacuation, but it was important for people to follow the order.

“We tell them if they choose to ignore the advisements they have to understand emergency services may not be able to access where they are, so we ask that they do adhere to the evacuation notice,” he said.

The American Red Cross has opened a shelter at Sinagua Middle School, 3950 East Butler Avenue in Flagstaff, for anybody displaced.

Officials estimated that the fire had grown to about 1,000 acres by Monday morning.

A Monday evening update said the acreage had grown to about 1,800.

Some areas were evacuated Sunday as the fire came within a mile of Flagstaff, while others were given notification that evacuations could be coming.

Firefighters planned to use a “heavy air component” Monday to try to keep the blaze away from the threatened communities, according to a press release.

A Type 1 Incident Management Team was scheduled to take command Monday, bringing the total firefighters on scene to about 200.

Megan Taylor with the National Weather Service in Flagstaff said while rain may help later in the week, wind may be a more immediate problem.

“Today is sort of a transition day into deeper moisture arriving Tuesday, so we anticipate a few isolated showers or storms,” she told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

“There could be some light rainfall out there, but predominantly going to be producing gusty outflow winds, so that’s the primary concern today.”

Gov. Doug Ducey said containing the fire is a “top priority.”

Heavy smoke was visible from Flagstaff, according to forest officials. The public was asked to use “extreme caution” when driving on U.S. 180 and 89 north of the city and avoid the fire area.

The cause of the fire, which started Sunday, is under investigation.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jim Cross and Taylor Kinnerup contributed to this report. 

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