Kitt Peak Observatory, Arizona tribal community evacuated for wildfire
PHOENIX – The Kitt Peak National Observatory and a nearby tribal community in southern Arizona have been evacuated because of an encroaching wildfire, authorities said.
The observatory was evacuated Thursday, and the Pan Tak community on the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation was moved to “GO” status of the emergency response system on Friday.
INSANE FOOTAGE – On the Contreras Fire in Arizona. A massive dust devil in the background of a tanker drop. Last reported at 6,700 acres the fire is on the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation. Multiple Hotshot crews are working the fire #contrerasfire #arizona #azwx #wildfire #fire pic.twitter.com/coDJ9UF8Gj
— TheHotshotWakeUp (@HotshotWake) June 16, 2022
The Contreras Fire was caused by lightning on a remote ridge of the Baboquivari Mountains about 60 miles southwest of Tucson on Saturday. It has doubled in size since Wednesday and was measured at 11,489 acres on Friday, with no containment.
The flames have been moving north, toward the observatory and Pan Tak, consuming grass and brush in rugged terrain that is difficult for firefighters to reach.
Update on #ContrerasFire at @KittPeakNatObs: https://t.co/BtOZYTX92h. The Contreras Fire reached the Observatory early Friday morning. We are working with firefighters at the site to assess possible damage.
— Kitt Peak National Observatory (@KittPeakNatObs) June 17, 2022
The fire reached the observatory site on Friday. Officials were working with firefighters to assess the damage.
More than 300 personnel were assigned to fight the Contreras Fire as of Friday’s incident management report, with seven crews, 12 engines and five water tenders. Five helicopters were assigned Friday for air support.
The Kitt Peak Visitor Center has been closed to the public since March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kitt Peak National Observatory, a program of the National Science Foundation’s NOIRLab, was founded in 1958. The site has more than 20 telescopes, the largest of which, the Nicholas U. Mayall, is 18 stories tall.
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