SELLS, Ariz. — A lightning-caused Contreras wildfire that led to an evacuation of the Kitt Peak National Observatory southwest of Tucson is nearly 100% contained, authorities said.
The wind-whipped fire started June 11 on a remote ridge on the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation, about 8 miles southeast of Kitt Peak.
Flames had reached Kitt Peak by Thursday, and officials evacuated a small community north of the mountain.
Four non-scientific buildings on the west side of the observatory property — a house, a dorm, and two minor outbuildings — were destroyed. But authorities said early indications show the fire didn’t damage the telescope.
Structure protection crews have successfully placed defensible lines around all remaining structures at Kitt Peak, according to firefighters.
The University of Arizona, which has had a telescope at the site since 1962, is a tenant of the observatory.
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The full evacuation list, evacuation center information and up-to-date road closures can be found below:
Latest fire updates:
- The Contreras Fire started Jun. 11 in the Baboquivari Mountain range
- As of Sunday, June 19, the fire has destroyed four non-scientific structures at the Kitt Peak National Observatory.
- Officials say the fire was started by a lightning strike
How many acres has it burned?
The Contreras Fire has burned 29,482 acres and is 90% contained as of Jun. 27.
"The fire, burning in highly flammable grass and brush in steep and rugged terrain, is difficult for firefighters to access," officials explained.
As for the loss of buildings at the KPNO, officials say "initial assessment indicates that all the domes and other scientific facilities have been protected from the worst part of the fire to date."
Arizona Wildfire Season
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