Forest officials closely monitoring Buster Mountain Fire

Published: Jul. 14, 2015 at 2:16 PM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 4:23 PM MST
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(Source: Tucson News Now)
(Source: Tucson News Now)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Buster Mountain Fire burning in the Catalina Mountains has more than doubled in size.

According to WildCAD - Tucson Interagency Dispatch Center, the fire has burned 206 acres.

The fire started on Monday, July 13, after several lighting strikes in the area and was first reported at 60 acres.

Several residents in Oro Valley are concerned about the fire, because the Forest Service has decided to let the fire burn itself out. There is one forest service engine crew assigned to the area.

Coronado National Forest Spokeswoman Heidi Schewel said officials are letting the fire do what it naturally does, and that this is good for the environment in that area.

Schewel said the fire is burning excessive brush and cleaning up the terrain.

"It's burning completely in wilderness," Schewel said. "This is a completely natural fire."

If the fire got to a point where they felt it would not help the environment, crews would immediately be called for suppression efforts, she added.

The fire is burning in a high elevation, in rocky terrain.

Forest Service officials also said because of the location, it would be extremely dangerous to put firefighter lives at risk to fight the fire, as it is not threatening any homes or property.

Still, many residents continue to capture the fire on their cameras.

"You never know where it's going to go," said Steve Lambesis, a photographer for Aerial America: Arizona, "So I'm hoping it stays contained and we can do some burns and let nature take it's course when it can."

One concerned resident said she is worried about the fire.

"I think they should at least try to tame it a little bit after seeing it today, it looks like it has spread wide across the mountain," said Emily Maracigan.

Another concern among residents, is that the fire is in the habitat of bighorn sheep.

However, a spokesperson with Arizona Game & Fish said all the sheep are safe.

Officials have been monitoring sheep GPS coordinates through their collars.

Game & Fish officials also said the fire will help improve the habitat, as it will clear the line of sight for bighorn sheep to escape prey by burning excessive brush.

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