Gov. Ducey declares emergency to help fight Museum Fire near Flagstaff
PHOENIX – Saying “no expense would be spared,” Gov. Doug Ducey declared a state of emergency in Coconino County on Tuesday to provide support in the battle against the Museum Fire near Flagstaff.
“I want you to rest assured that the state of Arizona is doing everything possible we can to make sure that the people fighting this fire have everything they need,” Ducey said.
He made the announcement at the incident command center in Flagstaff after surveying the area and meeting with emergency officials.
The declaration provided $200,000 from the state’s general fund to be used by the director of the Arizona Division of Emergency Management, according to a press release from Ducey’s office.
The funds can be used to reimburse eligible emergency response and recovery costs and ensures first responders have the resources they need.
Ducey also met with evacuated residents and volunteers at the Red Cross shelter at Sinagua Middle School in Flagstaff.
Incident Commander Rich Nieto said there haven’t been any structures lost or injuries as a result of the fire.
“It says a lot about the great work that’s being done out there,” he said.
The fire had consumed an estimated 1,400 acres and was 10% contained, according to a Tuesday evening update from the incident management team. Smoke and weather conditions have made it difficult to obtain an accurate measurement, the update said.
Incident management team spokesman Steve Kliest told KTAR News 92.3 FM that rain has helped with containment, although it also increases the threat of flash flooding.
“As we get more moisture on the fire it will allow us to convert from a defensive strategy to an offensive strategy, because until we can get boots on the ground right next to the fire line, we won’t have real containment on this fire,” he said.
Favorable weather conditions allowed crews to conduct burnout operations on the northern edge of the fire during the day.
The operations may increase visible smoke in the area, the update said.
The Museum Fire started around noon Sunday in a mountain pass that’s a prime spot for recreation just minutes north of Flagstaff’s downtown.
That night, an evacuation notice was issued for the recreational areas off Forest Road 420 to Highway 89 and Schultz Pass Road.
Then on Monday evening, evacuation was ordered for homes and businesses accessed from Mount Elden Lookout Road, including residents east of Weatherford Road with access on Mount Elden Lookout.
Residents in another 5,000 homes have been notified they should be prepared for possible evacuation orders.
A top-tier federal team took over managing the fire late Monday, bringing more resources to fight the blaze and making it a priority regionally.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Taylor Kinnerup and The Associated Press contributed to this report.