Frye Fire on Mt. Graham may have caused heat damage to telescope

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - A wildfire may have caused heat damage last weekend to one of the research telescopes northeast of Tucson on Mount Graham.

Paul Gabor, an astronomer who serves as vice director of the Vatican Observatory, says the Frye Fire burned within probably 30 feet of the building, but didn't cause the structure to catch fire.

Fire conditions are preventing the telescope operators from examining the interior of the building.

But Gabor suspects the heat may have damaged metal on the building's exterior.

He also is concerned that smoke may have entered the structure and damaged electronic equipment and mirrors on the telescope.

Gabor hopes to inspect the building next month.

The lightning-started Frye Fire has been burning since June 7 and has charred nearly 46 square miles.

As of Saturday evening, the fire is 39-percent contained.

All campgrounds, roadways and trail systems within the Forest boundary in the Pinaleño Mountain Range are closed, with the exception of State Highway 266 from its intersection at the eastern Forest boundary to its intersection with the western Forest boundary, firefighters said. 

Graham County Sheriff's officers will stop any non-essential-fire traffic in that area. 

Some firefighters working on the southern end of the Frye Fire and the Bar X Fire are staying on the grounds of the Fort Grant State Prison Unit. There are no plans to evacuate the prison at this time, firefighters said.

Firefighters said no structures are currently threatened. 

FRYE FIRE UPDATES: http://12ne.ws/2s9roxE

© 2017 Associated Press


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