Wildfires in Arizona are threatening important observatories

Mount Graham, home to the Large Binocular Telescope, is in danger.
By | Published: June 19, 2017 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
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As the Frye Fire ranged in Arizona, it crept up too close for comfort to several important observatories, including the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT), the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope (VATT), and the Heinrich Hertz Submillimeter Telescope (SMT).


An article in the Arizona Daily Star reported that a Bible camp and a camping cabin area were also threatened.


While some Twitter reports claimed that the VATT was destroyed in the fire, Gila Valley Central says it just suffered a close call, as did the LBT. Neither was directly touched by the flames, though both sustained heat damage in the inferno.


The fire was initially sparked by a lightning strike in dry weather and hot temperatures. It is now estimated to encompass more than 11,000 acres as firefighters work to contain the blaze. The Eastern Arizona Courier reports that essential staff are still on site. The firefighters were able to contain the blaze even while battling strep throat.