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Monsoon lightning starts fire in Catalinas

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Monsoon lightning starts fire in Catalinas

Over 600 lightning strikes were recorded across the Coronado National Forest on Sunday, one of which started a wildfire in the Molina Basin drainage of the Santa Catalina Mountains.

The 240-acre Prison Fire was 50 percent contained Tuesday, and should be fully contained with 24-48 hours, said Gerry Perry, a Coronado National Forest Service fire information officer.

On Monday, GPS measurements showed the fire to be about 240 acres, and the blaze did not grow overnight, Perry said in a news release. Sixty firefighters, a helicopter, and two water tenders are fighting the fire. Their efforts have been helped by monsoon rains in the past 24 hours, he said, with about .65 inches falling on the mountain Monday night.

Firefighting traffic on the Mt. Lemmon Highway "should no longer be a problem" for drivers, Perry said.

Recent moisture also helped douse the W 2 Fire, which has burned nearly 530 acres along the international border east of Nogales. Flames there were battled by 160 firefighters last week. Forces have been reduced to an engine and select patrolling officers, as the fire is 95 percent contained and is producing very little smoke, Perry said.

"Full containment is anticipated soon although the fire’s Mexico side is still being monitored closely," he said.

With the Fourth of July holiday this Thursday, the Forest Service would also like to remind people that fireworks are prohibited in the Coronado National Forest and other areas of Arizona. Anyone caught with fireworks will be accountable for any resulting fires and associated cost, Perry said.

Stage 2 fire restrictions are in place across the state, meaning smoking, welding, target shooting and campfires are prohibited on all publicly managed lands.

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