Tunnel Fire burning on Schultz burn scar prompting concerns about flooding

An NAU study shows neighborhoods are still recovering from the 2010 Schultz Fire and the flooding that followed and some are worried it'll happen again.
Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 10:27 PM MST
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FLAGSTAFF, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- The Tunnel Fire just north of Flagstaff is burning through an area still recovering from a wildfire that sparked more than a decade ago. Back in 2010, the Schultz Fire burned 16,000 acres. A couple of years later, devastating flooding on the burn scar killed a young girl and destroyed several dozen homes. Last year, researchers at the Ecological Restoration Institute at Northern Arizona University tracked the financial and social impact of the wildfire and found there are still lingering effects.

“Even ten years later, they were experiencing mental and wellbeing effects with that fire,” said Melanie Colavito, director of policy and communications at ERI.

According to the study, by 2020, the Schultz Fire cost residents and the government about $100 million. “A majority of the costs were post-fire rehabilitation that includes government putting in flood mitigation efforts, infrastructure to prevent flooding again,” said Colavito.

Now, the Tunnel Fire is burning through parts of the Schultz burn scar and forcing families to leave their homes once again. There are growing concerns there could be more flooding during the monsoon. Coconino County officials said they plan to do an infrared flight Wednesday night to better understand what has burned and determine the flood threat.

“We will work to predict where there are threats and if we need to mobilize the resources to manage those threats. We will do so, like we did then, mobilizing very quickly,” said Lucinda Andreani, the Deputy Coconino County Manager.