- Associated Press - Friday, June 12, 2015

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - When the advisory board for Lowell Observatory’s trustee showed up in Flagstaff this week for an annual meeting, an unexpected duty arose.

Trustee Lowell Putnam says his family and the observatory staff helped extinguish small fires near the campus that authorities believe were set intentionally.

Flagstaff Fire Department spokesman Capt. Bill Morse says investigators don’t yet know who started the fires Wednesday night. He says the nine fires burned in an area that had been thinned, limiting their ability to spread. The recent wet weather helped too.

Putnam is the great grandnephew of observatory founder Percival Lowell. He said Friday that a staff member smelled smoke and another person called 911 and the groundskeeper. Putnam and a dozen others then began throwing dirt on the fires.


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