NAU experts are anxious to study impact of Museum Fire on the area

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (FOX 10) -- As the Museum Fire continues to burn north of Flagstaff and cause concern for those who live nearby, experts are curious on the impact the fire will have on the area.

"We should be able to learn an awful lot from this fire," said Dr. Amy Waltz with the Northern Arizona University Ecological Restoration Institute, in a phone interview.

With the Museum Fire creating a Declaration of Emergency in Flagstaff, researchers at NAU are anxious to figure out more about what it's burning.

"We know it's gone through some thinned areas but also some un-thinned areas, so we suspect that's the case," said Dr. Waltz.

Last fall, FOX 10 was invited along for a ride as crews thinned out danger zones within the footprint of what is now the Museum Fire. After that, a wet winter greeted Flagstaff, including a 40-inch snowstorm five months ago.

Did that help? Experts say no.

"When we look at fire intensity and severity, it's tied mostly to precipitation in April and May," said Dr. Waltz.

The other issue is what happens after the fire and during a heavy rainstorm. With monsoon season getting going later than usual, Flagstaff could be on edge for several months with a dangerous burn scar.

"We're hopeful that there remains enough cover in the footprint of the Museum Fire, the headwaters to Flagstaff that we can make it through without having catastrophic flooding," said Dr. Waltz.