Wildfire in Catalinas grows to 240 acres; highway open

2013-07-02T00:00:00Z Wildfire in Catalinas grows to 240 acres; highway openVeronica M. Cruz Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
July 02, 2013 12:00 am  • 

A fire burning in the Santa Catalina Mountains that started Sunday night has charred about 240 acres.

The Prison Fire, which started just west of milepost 8 on Catalina Highway, is burning in an area that was a former World War II prison camp in the Molino Basin, said Gerry Perry, a fire information officer with the Tucson Interagency Dispatch Center.

The fire was caused by a lightning strike in the area during an evening storm, Perry said.

More than 600 lightning strikes were recorded in Coronado National Forest, he said.

The fire is burning in light fuels, such as grass, leaves and pine needles, that have grown since the devastating Aspen Fire in 2003, Perry said.

The fire was 5 percent contained Monday afternoon, and no structures are being threatened, Perry said.

Two crews, an engine, two water tenders, a helicopter and 50 firefighters are battling the fire.

Catalina Highway remains open, but motorists are asked to avoid the area to allow crews to work on the fire and avoid heavy traffic.

Fire restrictions in place in the mountain range ban campfires, charcoal grills, smoking, welding and target shooting.

Fireworks are always prohibited in the Coronado National Forest and federal public lands in Arizona.

On StarNet: View photos of the Prison Fire at azstarnet.com/gallery

Contact reporter Veronica Cruz at vcruz@azstarnet.com or at 573-4224.

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