Arizona wildfire near Kitt Peak Observatory 40% contained

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A lightning-caused wildfire that led to the evacuation of the Kitt Peak National Observatory southwest of Tucson is 40% contained, authorities said.

More than 300 firefighters were working on the wildfire on Saturday. If all goes as planned, authorities said the fire could be fully contained by next Sunday.

The wind-driven fire began June 11 on a remote ridge on the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation, about eight miles southeast of Kitt Peak.

It had reached 27.5 square miles (71 square kilometers) before rain hit the region on Saturday. The blaze covered about 30 square miles (78 square kilometers) on Sunday.

The flames had reached Kitt Peak on Thursday and authorities evacuated a small community north of the mountain.

Four non-scientific buildings on the west side of the observatory property – a house, a dormitory and two minor outbuildings – were destroyed. But authorities said early indications show the fire did not 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 on the site since 1962, is a tenant of the observatory.

In northern New Mexico, authorities concerned about the threat of flooding after wildfires as the state enters the monsoon season have warned residents of San Miguel and Mora counties to be prepared to evacuate due to the risk of flooding, reported the Albuquerque Journal.

The largest area at risk of flooding is where a fire that started two months ago has so far burned 533 square miles (1,381 square kilometers). The fire is 72% contained.