“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. His first published poem, "Roadside Freak Show," arrives on August 21, 2017 in Impossible Archetype.  His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey. Richard is also the Downlink Lead for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) team at the University of Arizona. He monitors images of the Martian surface taken by the HiRISE camera located on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in orbit around Mars and helps ensure they process successfully and are validated for quick release to the science community and public. Once upon a time, Richard wrote and edited the science and technology news and commentary website Frontier Channel, hosted the RADIO Frontier Channel podcast, and organized transhumanist clubs. Follow Richard on his website (richardleis.com), on Goodreads (richardleis), Twitter (@richardleisjr), and Facebook (richardleisjr).