Firefighters Try to Protect
Observatory From Blazes
SAFFORD, Ariz. -- Firefighters widened a defensive ring around a mountaintop observatory Monday to try to hold back two wildfires and protect one of the world's most powerful telescopes under construction.
Crews used bulldozers and fire retardant around the Mount Graham International Observatory, which has two operating telescopes and the $120 million, soon-to-be-completed Large Binocular Telescope.
The building has a sprinkler system, but "smoke and heat could do some real damage to the instruments inside," said Pruett Small, a fire official.
Only Arizona's summer rains can put out the wildfires, officials said.
One of the fires was a lightning-sparked blaze that had grown to more than 6,200 acres by early Monday. It was burning less than a mile southeast of the $200 million-plus observatory. A nearby blaze grew to more than 6,500 acres.
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-- From News Services