Residents of one of the most popular spots for altitude training and trail running in North America is battling a wildfire that broke out around 11 a.m. local time Sunday morning. The fire, reported by residents and fire lookouts about two miles north of Flagstaff, Arizona, had burned more than 1,000 acres (400 hectares) by Monday afternoon. Homes in the neighbourhood nearest the fire were being evacuated, while ground and air crews continued to try to contain it.
#Museumfire Go EVAC Update: The @CoconinoSheriff has issued an evacuation order effective at 6 p.m. until further notice for all persons living, working and accessing a home from Mount Elden Lookout Road. Residents east of Weatherford Rd with access on Mount Elden Lookout Rd. pic.twitter.com/qni1w8I6Rz
— Coconino County (@CoconinoCounty) July 22, 2019
We reached Rob Krar, the much-celebrated Canadian trail runner who lives beside Buffalo Park, one of the most popular running spots in Flagstaff. Here’s what he told us:
“There is little good news to report this morning. The fire was very active overnight, doubling in size, and continuing its trek east/northeast.” We received Krar’s comments several hours before evacuation began.
“While trying to find the positive in hearing no reports of injury or structure loss, it is heartbreaking for Flagstaff to witness our precious forest and most accessible and utilized trails being lost to the Museum fire,” Krar said. “After the majority of the east side of the San Francisco Peaks was destroyed by the 15,000-acre Schultz Fire in 2010, my worst fear of a similar fire on the south side of the mountains is now being realized.”
More specifically, the fire is located in the Dry Lake Hills area northwest of Mount Elden. Many of the popular trails in the area have been closed. The latest reports say the fire is not contained and is continuing to grow. Firefighters were not able to perform “burnout” operations overnight (controlled burns) in an effort to contain the fire.
Flagstaff is one of the most popular spots for elite training camps due its altitude, which is around 7,000 feet (2,133m), though Canadian athletes train there mostly in the spring.
The cause of the fire is unknown.