Firefighters employed burnouts to keep the Thompson Ridge Fire from destroying  cabins in the historic district of the Valles Caldera National Preserve. Photographer Kristen Honig worked alongside the Granite Mountain hotshot crew to record this image. Nineteen members of that crew would later die in the Yarnell Hill Fire.

Kristen Honig/Valles Caldera Trust

Shortly after their funding was renewed for another five years in June, University of Arizona researchers lost one of their critical-zone research sites to the 24,000-acre Thompson Ridge Fire in the Valles Caldera National Preserve near Jemez Springs, N.M.

The grant renewal was good news, said Jon Chorover, co-investigator for the National Science Foundation grant that underwrites research of the Critical Zone Observatory on mountain slopes in Arizona and New Mexico, including sites on nearby Mount Lemmon.

Chorover was reluctant to characterize the fire as “bad” news, instead calling it “interesting.”

It's certainly been an interesting summer for Chorover and crew. In June, a small group went to the research site two days before fire blazed through. As ash fell on them, they cut cables and collected about $250,000 worth of equipment in a few hours.

This past weekend, they braved lightning and debris flows to reattach the undamaged sensors and install some more.

Read more about it in tomorrow's Arizona Daily Star.