Wildfire SW of Tucson 40% contained | Local news


The Contreras Fire, burning southwest of Tucson, is now 40% contained but grew to nearly 19,000 acres this weekend.

The fire started June 11 on a remote ridge of the Baboquivari Mountain range, north of the Baboquivari Peak, 20 miles east of Sells, on the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation.

The fire overran the property of the Kitt Peak National Observatory, but no telescopes or other science facilities appeared to have been damaged. Officials said Sunday that four structures — two out buildings, a dormitory and a residence — were lost to the fire on Friday morning.

“Scientific facilities and instrumentation appear intact, assessments of damage to instrumentation will begin once conditions allow for safe entry into the area,” said a news briefing released Sunday morning.

With some of the fire’s boundaries contained, crews will be shifted to the Kitt Peak area to help with fire suppression activities on the northeast side of the fire, officials said.

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Crews are also doing structure protection work in the Pan Tak and Cowtown communities.

On the western flank, the fire will be allowed to burn down the slope into more advantageous terrain that will allow crews to safely engage the fire, officials said.

The status for the Pan Tak community was revised from evacuation to SET status. The observatory remains under an evacuation status.

Near the Elkhorn Ranch, structure protection crews worked to establish stronger control lines, patrolling through burned areas to detect and extinguish any remaining sources of heat. Some resources were moved to the northeast area of the fire where more fire activity was prevalent. The lightning-sparked fire has burned about 18,843 acres as of Sunday.

There are more than 350 personnel assigned to the fire.

Arizona 386 remained closed Sunday.