Tucson-area wildfire caused by abandoned campfire

An abandoned campfire ignited a wildfire this week on Mount Lemmon in southern Arizona while fire restrictions were in effect, forest service officials said.

The fire started Thursday about a half mile south of the mountaintop community of Summerhaven near Busch Spring, authorities said. It burned more than 161,000 square feet (about 15,000 square meters) before firefighters could stop its growth.

Personnel from the Mount Lemmon Fire Department, the Coronado National Forest, the U.S. Forest Service and local law enforcement responded to the fire.

The campfire was left “without so much as even a fire ring to retain it, left smoldering,” indicating there was no attempt to extinguish it, Coronado National Forest spokeswoman Heidi Schewel said.

Stage II restrictions are currently in place, meaning activities such as using a campfire or wood stove, smoking and welding are prohibited.

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The fire caused potential harm to first responders, aircraft personnel, damage to natural resources, recreation sites and the village, officials said.

Mount Lemmon is located in the Coronado National Forest, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) north of Tucson.