TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A lightning-caused wildfire that led to an evacuation of the Kitt Peak National Observatory southwest of Tucson now is 40% contained, according to authorities.
More than 300 firefighters continue to work the wildfire as of Saturday and if all goes as planned, authorities said the blaze could be fully contained by next Sunday evening.
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.
It had grown to 27 ½ square miles (71.2 square kilometers) before rain fell on the area Saturday.
Flames had reached Kitt Peak by Thursday night 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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