Very high temperatures and low humidity affect Contreras Fire in Southern Arizona

South of the observatories on Kitt Peak

5:58 p.m. MDT June 16, 2022

3-D map of the Contreras Fire
3-D map of the Contreras Fire looking north at 10:53 p.m. MDT June 15, 2022.

Firefighters on the Contreras Fire in Southern Arizona had their work cut out for them Thursday. They were battling the wildfire on the hottest day so far of this year. The temperature at the Sasabe weather station southeast of the fire topped out at 106 degrees while the relative humidity dropped to 5 percent. The wind was out of the south and west at 5 mph gusting at 12 to 23 mph.

To see all of the articles on Wildfire Today about the Contreras Fire, including the most recent, click HERE.

In the video below the massive dust devil indicates an unstable atmosphere which can indicate conditions conducive to a plume-driven rapidly spreading wildfire.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Brave_Guardian17 (@brave_guardian17)

The fire started from lightning on a remote ridge of the Baboquivari Mountains, north of the Baboquivari Peak on the Tohono O’odham Nation on Saturday, 11 June 2022. It is burning grass and brush in steep and rugged terrain that is difficult for firefighters to access. Hot and dry winds from the south and southwest are pushing the fire to the north and northeast. On Monday June 13 it had burned about 500 acres, and by Thursday morning it had grown to 11,500 acres as it moved through the drought-stressed vegetation.

Contreras Fire
Smoke visible from the Contreras Fire as seen from Kitt Peak on Thursday June 16, 2022. The image is looking south from the Nicholas U. Mayall 4-meter telescope catwalk. KPNO/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA

The fire was very active Thursday afternoon, spreading to the north, closer to Kitt Peak.

Thursday morning it was 1.5 miles south of the complex of observatories at Kitt Peak, 20 miles north of the US/Mexico border, and 16 miles east of Sells, AZ.

A Type 2 Eastern Area Incident Management Team assumed command of the Contreras Fire on June 16, under the direction of Incident Commander Brian Pisarek.

To date, aviation resources and retardant dropped from aircraft have had limited success due to heavy smoke, high winds and extremely dry fuels. Smoke from the fire is visible from Sells and Three Points, and residual effects have been reported near Tucson.

Map Contreras Fire at 2:01 p.m. MDT June 16, 2022.
Map of the Contreras Fire. The red dots represent heat detected by a satelltie at 2:01 p.m. MDT June 16, 2022. The red line was the perimeter at 10:53 p.m. MDT June 15, 2022.

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please read the commenting rules before you post a comment.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

5 thoughts on “Very high temperatures and low humidity affect Contreras Fire in Southern Arizona”

  1. Hi Bill, This comment is relative to video of “the massive dust devil”. In the most recent photos I see that the green is a shrub which appears to be a couple of meters high. I assume the tan is a ground surface which has a minimum of vegetation. And I see (conclude) that the plane dropping the retardant on this edge of the wildfire is a wasted effort because it is a wrong strategy which has maybe created the wildfire which we are now experiencing.

    That foreground edge is a controlled burn which should be allowed to burn to the edge of the shrub area. Creating less area for lighting to start a wildfire. All the shrubs are doing is pulling moisture out of the subsoil with their probable long roots. Grass, with its shorter roots might provide grazing area for sheep if water was hauled into while they briefly grazed a portion of the grass which would productively remove any excess dry vegetation to burn if a lighting strike did hit this green area after it had dried to brown.

    Just something someone might consider. Have a good day, Jerry

  2. I’m going to make myself available national and if I get an order to this fire I’m going to UTF it. Time to start jerking around leadership like they are jerking us around.

    1. Bro, don’t think you understand how things work in Dispatch Land. Your local dispatch will pick up on that in a second, and when it comes time that you want to go out, you’ll find yourself black-balled. Just sayin…


Comments are closed.