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Arizona fire may have caused heat damage to telescope

The Frye Fire burns the western edge of the Pinaleño Mountains in Coronado National Forest above Ft. Grant Prison near Willcox, Ariz. on Thursday, June 22, 2017. The lightning-caused fire is now at nearly 29,000 acres. More than 800 personnel are assigned to the fire. (Kelly Presnell /Arizona Daily Star via AP)

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 blaze has been burning since June 7 and has charred nearly 36,000 acres as of Saturday morning. It is 29 percent contained and was believed to have been started by lightning.

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