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View Full Version : Mt. Lemmon Fire is endangering Telescopes



John Kierein
2003-Jun-20, 05:53 PM
I'm looking at the huge Aspen fire easily visible from Tucson. These telescopes may be goners! It's not clear if they are escaping it or not. The fire right now (Friday Morning 10:50 AM MST or PDT) is blowing up again as the wind and heat continues.
http://www.astronomycamp.org/lemmon.html

crazy4space
2003-Jun-20, 07:02 PM
[
quote="John Kierein"]I'm looking at the huge Aspen fire easily visible from Tucson. These telescopes may be goners! It's not clear if they are escaping it or not. The fire right now (Friday Morning 10:50 AM MST or PDT) is blowing up again as the wind and heat continues.
http://www.astronomycamp.org/lemmon.html[/quote]

This is terrible news - keep us posted :x :x

nebularain
2003-Jun-20, 08:47 PM
Pulled up this news article (http://www.kold.com/Global/story.asp?S=1326428) from Google-searching.

John Kierein
2003-Jun-23, 11:37 AM
I flew back in to Tucson yesterday evening from Denver. The very thick smoke plume extends many miles to the Northeast. The fire tripled in size but firefighters have been able to valiantly defend the observatory so far. If the wind switches even a little, it'll be bad news. It may be bad news even if the wind doesn't switch. "Firefighters are currently involved in prep-work in the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory area and have conducted a burnout. Currently 180 degrees around the observatory have been treated but at least two nearby radio antennas have been damaged."

The plume can be seen from space.

http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/tucson/satellite/1km_vis_Tucson.html

crazy4space
2003-Jun-23, 12:25 PM
John, Saw this on the news last night in Kansas City. 8600 acres and still going, you folks could use some rain. Getting to close for comfort. :-?

Grand Vizier
2003-Jun-23, 02:07 PM
http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/tucson/satellite/1km_vis_Tucson.html

Wow. But it's showing multiple fires, which fits with the maps here:

http://www.azstarnet.com/wildfire/

It also looks to me as though two arizona.edu observatory sites are threatened - Mount Lemmon seems to be in most danger, but the earlier reports referred to Mount Bigelow.

Hope it all turns out OK for them anyway. That's a historic instrument for a start: http://james.as.arizona.edu/~psmith/61inch/

Conspiracy theorists (damn their eyes) are having a field day with this one, especially given the past loss of Mount Stromlo to forest fires.

tracer
2003-Jun-23, 07:33 PM
*sigh* ... if only the national forestry service hadn't been engaging in a policy of total fire suppression for the last century or so....

Grand Vizier
2003-Jun-23, 08:47 PM
*sigh* ... if only the national forestry service hadn't been engaging in a policy of total fire suppression for the last century or so....

There was a piece in New Scientist a little while back that said they'd been rethinking that policy - but I guess even if they stopped it overnight it would take many years to have an effect.

kurtisw
2003-Jun-24, 06:04 PM
It also looks to me as though two arizona.edu observatory sites are threatened - Mount Lemmon seems to be in most danger, but the earlier reports referred to Mount Bigelow.


Things are hairy up there, but so far there has been no damage to either site. Through some backburns and some luck, three separate "attacks" by the fire at Mt Lemmon were beaten back. There is still one direction from which the fire can attack, but there is some reason for optimism.

Mt Bigelow is about 1/2 mile from the fire, and the crews are busy cutting timber and setting back burns to try and protect the site. The winds are forecast to die down some today ; that will help a lot.

Tim Thompson
2003-Jun-27, 12:12 AM
Pictures taken during the first week of the fire, taken by Jim Grantham, can be found here:

http://james.as.arizona.edu/~psmith/2003Fire/aspenfire.html

The pictures show that the fire made it right to the perimeter fence, or so it seems, but avoided the observatory. I think the observatory is likely safe now, as the fire has already burned most of the surrounding area. But a change in the wind could affect that.

Grand Vizier
2003-Jun-27, 12:43 AM
Glad to hear that. These distant shots from Jim Scotti at Kitt Peak Observatory actually look scarier to me than the close-in ones - it's the impression you get of the size of the smoke plume:

http://pirlwww.lpl.arizona.edu/~jscotti/aspen_fire/

tracer
2003-Jun-27, 12:46 AM
Yeah, even a tiny fire can produce a huge amount of smoke.

ToSeek
2003-Jun-30, 04:11 PM
Good news: Arizona scopes escape wildfire (http://skyandtelescope.com/news/article_990_1.asp)