Crews fight fire with fire to protect the city of Flagstaff

Flagstaff fire crews will implement prescribed burns near Flagstaff as part of the water shed project.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Smoke was visible starting Wednesday morning, from Flagstaff and Interstate 40. 

Usually focused on battling flames, this week agency crews partnered with the Flagstaff Fire Department to fight fire with fire on the Observatory Mesa.

Firewise Specialist with the Flagstaff Fire Dept., Jerolyn Byrne, said it was all part of the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project (FWPP).

It’ll take several days to burn about 200 acres, but this reintroduction of fire into the region must be conducted carefully, especially with downtown Flagstaff about three miles east of the Observatory Mesa.

Byrne said the goal was, “to restore our forests back to a state historically, that was pre-settlement and also to help reduce wildland hazardous fuels in our area.”

The crews kept themselves and the surrounding community safe by closely watching the fire behavior, weather, changing winds, terrain and visitors to the area.

The Gleasons from Nebraska were camping in Flagstaff for the first time. Mother Leticia Gleason said she was grateful these men and women protect the outdoors.

“I’m glad that they’re maintaining things and taking care of things to prevent natural disasters,” Gleason said.

“Wildland fire is a natural part of the ecosystem here in the ponderosa pine forest, here in Northern Arizona,” Byrne explained.

Luckily for those recreating, no closures were in place as of Wednesday.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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