Lightning Sparks Fires In Arizona

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Coronado National Forest officials were keeping a close watch on three small lightning-sparked wildfires burning on Mount Graham.

The three blazes, known collectively as the Noon Complex, began Tuesday but they had burned less than a combined 10 acres by Wednesday night.

Forest spokeswoman Marylee Peterson said the fires weren't threatening any of the roughly 100 structures in the Pinaleno Mountains 75 miles northeast of Tucson.

She said the blazes also were not threatening the Mount Graham International Observatory, home to two completed telescopes and the $110 million Large Binocular Telescope that the University of Arizona is still building.

Three helicopters and five hotshot crews were working to contain the fires, which were burning in rugged terrain.

Fire officials have worried for years that a major wildfire in the Pinalenos could wipe out the telescopes and habitat for the endangered Mount Graham red squirrel.

The forests of Southern Arizona's tallest mountain are stressed by drought, overgrown from decades of fire suppression and plagued by insect outbreaks.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- Lightning sparked a small fire on the eastern edge of the Coconino National Forest in Yellow Jacket Canyon east of Flagstaff.

U.S. Forest Service officials said Wednesday that the Jacket Fire burning about eight miles south of Twin Arrows will be managed using a confinement strategy.

Fire officials won't actively suppress the fire, but instead will monitor the fire's progress and allow it to burn within a specified and confined area.

The fire was burning in pinon-juniper woodland and was expected to reach 500 to 600 acres, according to Forest Service officials.

Information from: Arizona Daily Star,