Mount Lemon Prison Fire grows

A lightning strike occurred about 6:00 p.m. on June 30, in the Molino Basin drainage of the Santa Catalina Mountains, causing a wildfire. By this morning, the fire had grown to about 200 acres, burning in light fuels that have regrown since the Aspen Fire of 2002.

The fire is about 5 percent contained at present but active on the west flank. No structures are presently threatened.

The blaze has been named for the old World War II POW camp that existed nearby many years ago.

Presently, there are two crews of fire fighters, an engine, two water tenders, and a helicopter assigned for a total of 50 firefighters.

Authorities are asking the public to be aware of firefighter activity along the Catalina Highway, and asking that the public 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.

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.

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.

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