Fire managers plan to utilize an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to monitor, gather intelligence, and conduct burnout operations on the Maroon Fire in areas which are inaccessible or too hazardous for firefighters.
The Forest Service has experimented with UAS on incidents in the past, but the Maroon Fire incident management team will be the first to officially order and operate this specialized equipment on an active incident to meet operational objectives.
The agency intends to utilize UAS for air operations on wildfires more often in the future, as the use of UAS significantly reduces the exposure of aircraft personnel to safety hazards and decreases firefighting costs.
On the Maroon Fire, the UAS will be used to conduct burnout operations near Maroon Crater—an area unsafe for personnel due the possibility of unexploded ordnance left behind by historical artillery testing.
As burnout operations commence, an increase in smoke will be seen by communities and motorists traveling in and around Flagstaff. Smoke is predicted to move toward the northeast and could impact areas such as Leupp, the Navajo Nation, Grand Falls area, and motorists along Leupp Road. Smoke settles and drains during cooler hours and may also impact Flagstaff, Winona and Doney Park during those hours.
Updates regarding the Maroon Fire are posted daily on Inciweb at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6352/.