Wildfire near Arizona’s Kitt Peak less than half contained

This photo provided by Hillary Cawrse shows burnout operations conducted Tuesday, June 14, 2022, on a wildfire moving through grass, brush and pine trees on the northern outskirts of Flagstaff, Ariz. Crews battling a pair of wildfires in the region were expecting some growth Thursday because of warm, dry and breezy conditions. (Hillary Cawrse via AP)

A lightning-caused wildfire that led to last week’s evacuation of the Kitt Peak National Observatory southwest of Tucson remained 40% contained Monday.

Authorities said more than 300 firefighters continued working the wildfire that has now charred 31.8 square miles (823 square kilometers) since it began June 11 on a remote ridge on the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation about 8 miles (13 kilometers) southeast of Kitt Peak.

Fire officials hope to gain full containment by Sunday evening with monsoon rain expected to fall on the fire area again later the week.

But they remain wary, saying lightning could spark other fires.

Rain last Saturday helped get the fire go from zero containment to 40% containment.

Flames reached Kitt Peak last Thursday and authorities 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 and structure protection crews have successfully placed defensible lines around all remaining structures at Kitt Peak.

Republished with the permission of The Associated Press.