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Contreras Fire

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Unit Information

P. O. Box 490 Sells Arizona 85634 
P. O. Box 490 Sells Arizona 85634 

Incident Contacts

  • Fire Information (Public)
  • Media Inquires

June 18 Fire Update

Contreras Fire
News - 06/18/2022


Fire Information: 520-302-5120 Media Information: 520-497-3625 

Twitter: @BLMAZFire Facebook: @TON.Emergency.Management or @blmarizona 


SUMMARY: The Contreras Fire started June 11 on a remote ridge of the Baboquivari Mountain range, north of the Baboquivari Peak, 20 miles east of Sells, Arizona, on the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation.  

TODAY: Aerial resources are expected to remain over the fire all day as long as lightning is not present in the area. Fire behavior remains typical for the Contreras Fire, with an increased movement upslope, pushed by winds and extremely dry fuels made up of brush and short grass. On the north end of the fire along Highway 86, and toward the Pan Tak and Cowtown communities, fire behavior will be monitored closely with the addition of extra crews and engines. Toward these areas, there will be opportunity for direct attack by crews and air support due to moderate terrain and sparse vegetation. Structure protection crews remain in the Kitt Peak Observatory and Pan Tak areas. Assessments of the Kitt Peak Observatory will commence today if conditions allow for safe entry into the area. Initial assessment indicates that all the domes and other scientific facilities have been protected from the worst part of the fire to date. Four non-scientific buildings on the west side of the Observatory property were lost in the fire. Structure protection crews have successfully placed defensible lines around all remaining structures. On the south end of the fire near Elkhorn Ranch, an engine and hand crew will check for hot spots along containment lines. The fire to the west will be allowed to burn down the slope into more advantageous terrain that will allow crews to engage the fire safely. Engines and crews from jurisdictional agencies will continue to patrol the western flank. 

YESTERDAY: Northern firefighting operations focused heavily on structure protection of the Kitt Peak Observatory and the Pan Tak Community in the Schuk Toak District of the Tohono O’odham Nation. An evacuation order was implemented for the community due to its proximity to the fire and the fire’s unpredictably. A shelter has been established for community members. Six helicopters helped crews on the ground engaged the fire, which was burning through highly flammable vegetation. Defensible firing actions were conducted to moderate the intensity of approaching fire. On the east side of the fire, crews dedicated their efforts to scouting for access points for crews and equipment. The fire moved very slowly downslope and naturally extinguished in some areas. On the south end of the fire near Elkhorn Ranch, structure protection crews worked to establish stronger control lines, removed flammable fuels with saws and hand tools, and prepared hose lay and sprinkler systems to ensure the safety of the ranch. Some resources were moved to the north portion of the fire where more fire activity was prevalent. The western perimeter of the fire was allowed to move slowly and southwesterly toward more favorable terrain where crews could engage the fire. 


  • Fire start date: June 11, 2022 
  • Cause: Lightning 
  • Acres: 17,646 
  • Containment: 0% 
  • Total Personnel: 300+ 
  • Jurisdiction: BIA, Papago Agency 


Crews: 8 

Engines: 12 

Water Tenders: 5 

Helicopters: 6 

Evacuations: Elkhorn Ranch, on the south end of the fire, is in SET status. The Kitt Peak Observatory, north of the fire, is in GO status. The community of Pan Tak has been precautionarily evacuated and a shelter has been established for those residents. 


Road Closures: Kitt Peak Road (State Route 386)