TUCSON, AZ –Sunday evening June 30th, a monsoonal storm occurred in the Tucson and Southeastern Arizona areas. Associated with the storm was significant lightning with over 600 strikes across the Coronado National Forest recorded by radar. One of these strikes occurred about 6 PM in the Molino Basin drainage of the Santa Catalina Mountains, causing a wildfire. At about 615PM the Lemmon Rock Lookout reported the smoke to the Tucson Interagency Dispatch Center who immediately notified and deployed engines and firefighters to deal with the blaze. The blaze has been named for the old World War II POW camp that existed nearby many years ago.
By this morning, the fire had grown to about 200 acres, burning in light fuels that have regrown since the Aspen Fire of 2002. Presently, there are two crews of fire fighters, an engine, two water tenders, and a helicopter assigned for a total of 50 firefighters. The fire is about 5% contained at present but active on the west flank. No structures are presently threatened.
With firefighter activity along the Catalina Highway, it would be very helpful if the public would avoid using the highway until crews can contain this fire. Heavy engines and water tenders will be active up and down the highway dealing with the blaze. Other non- essential traffic could hinder that effort.
We would like to again remind the public that even with the summer rains now seemingly starting, very little moisture fell in most of our mountain ranges. Stage 2 fire restrictions are in place. These restrictions prohibit campfires on all publicly managed lands, smoking, welding, and target shooting until further notice. Fireworks, popular with the 4th of July holiday, are always strictly prohibited on the Coronado National Forest and other lands in Arizona. These prohibitions carry criminal sanctions for those convicted of violations of the order as well as civilly being held responsible for the costs of suppression for any fires created by that activity.
For more detailed information concerning agency restrictions and fire danger in general, please contact the nearest land managing agency where you plan to recreate, visit http://wildlandfire.az.gov or call the toll free Southwest Fire Restrictions Hotline at 1-877-864-6985.