“Florida” Wildfire Threatens Arizona Observatory

The view from Tumamoc Hill west of downtown Tucson says it all. A wildfire has spread to consume approximately 20,000 acres about 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of the city of Tucson in Arizona, United States, after a lightning strike on July 07, 2005. The fire has been given the name “Florida” and has been slowly growing over the past several days while firefighters try to contain it. Several roads around the region have been closed, public access has been limited, and people in the area have been evacuated.

In hopes of preventing damage to the MMT Observatory on the summit of Mt. Hopkins directly in the path of the oncoming fire front, a slurry of wet material was sprayed on the grounds around the telescope. Observatory personnel were evacuated along with other people in the region, but a few have returned on a limited basis to better prepare observatory equipment and buildings.

According to a Friday, July 15, 2005 update by the Southwest Area Incident Management Team, a resource team of 858 members is making use of helitankers, helicopters, air attack, fire engines, water tenders, and dozers to combat the fire. The terrain is rugged and the team has been moving containment lines away from the flames to keep firefighters safe.

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Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a writer and poet living in Tucson, Arizona. His poetry has been published in Impossible Archetype. His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey and Fairy Tale Review’s “Fairy-Tale Files“.