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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Lightning sparks fire in Catalina Mountains

Alex McIntyre

A lightning-caused wildfire burns across patches of Catalina State Park and burns off excess vegetation in the area. Original photo taken July 15, 2015

A bolt of lightning ignited the Buster Mountain Fire at 3:30 p.m. on Monday afternoon in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness region of the Santa Catalina Mountains.

Heidi Schewel, a public affairs officer for the Coronado National Forest, said the fire is approximately 130 acres in size, and is burning short grass on steep, rocky, inaccessible terrain—beneficial to the region where excessive vegetation is common.

“A lightning strike, for us, is an opportunity for fire to perform its natural role on the land if no human-associated values are at risk,” Schewel said.

Frequent, low-intensity fires have always helped maintain landscapes. Schewel added, “In the last 100 years or so, we have done a lot of fire suppression … that has led to an excess build up of vegetation in many areas.”

As a result, the fire is currently in monitor status, which means fire personnel are watching the blaze from below. If necessary, they are prepared to go into suppression mode. However, according to Schewel, “there is no indication at this time that is going to happen.”

Schewel added that the weather would determine the next course of action, as rain could help stop the fire, and high winds could agitate it.  


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