The “Schultz” fire started last weekend to the north and east of Flagstaff. It’s grown rapidly and is now over 14,000 acres but is about 40% contained. The actual fire is in a sparsely populated area off of Highway 89. But- the public health threat from wildland fires are from the smoke- not so much the fire. So far, the winds have (luckily) generally been out of the west or southwest- driving the smoke away from town.
Our preparedness team is keeping a close eye on the wind direction- because if it shifts and comes out of the NE for a consistent period of time- Flagstaff could have very poor air quality- posing a problem for folks with respiratory problems. Our licensing team is also closely watching the fire because there is a nursing home, 10 assisted living centers, a hospital, and 63 group homes for people with developmental disabilities in the Flagstaff area. You can read more about our responsibilities in a wildfire emergency in our Wildfire Smoke and Your Health brochure and in The ADHS Wildfire Plan.
The ADEQ has moved some of their portable particulate air monitors (that were bought for the Rodeo Chediski fire) to the area just in case the wind shifts for decision making purposes. So far air quality in Flagstaff proper has been pretty good- although there are some neighborhoods on the far east side that have had what we call “drainage smoke” in the middle of the night. So far the extended forecast has prevailing winds from the SW- which is good.