TUCSON — A wildfire in southern Arizona has forced the evacuation of a small tribal community and the Kitt Peak National Observatory.
Fire officials said Friday that the fire’s northward growth prompted the evacuation of the community of Pan Tak on the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation.
Meanwhile, electricity to the observatory was cut and employees evacuated on Thursday. The fire reached Kitt Peak Road after being fueled by dense shrubbery.
A post from the observatory’s official Twitter account says firefighters are working to assess any damage. He also shared a photo from an observatory camera. It shows a long orange trail of frames on a peak with huge plumes of smoke.
It has reached 18 square miles and there is no containment.
More than 300 firefighters and five helicopters are working on containment. Crews clear flammable materials on the ground and monitor fire behavior. On the south side, they use fire lines, sprinkler systems, and other methods to keep the fire away from the Elkhorn Ranch. This herding community has been ordered to prepare for evacuation.
The lightning-caused wildfire was first reported on June 11 about 32 kilometers east of Sells. It started on a remote ridge in the Baboquivari mountain range.
Other crews are expected to arrive on Friday.
Firefighters say they are hoping for more favorable weather conditions later in the day and over the weekend.