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New measurements show Molino 3 Fire at 485 acres, 48% contained; trails closed

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Posted at 6:27 PM, Sep 07, 2023

Updated on September 11, 2023 at 9:00 a.m.

As of Saturday, Sept. 9 the U.S. Forest service is reporting the Molino 3 Fire at 48% contained, and they say forward progress on the fire has stopped.

Three trails and the shooting area along Catalina Highway remained closed, though the highway itself is open.

Trail Closures:

  • Babad Do’ag Trail # 705
  • Soldier Trail #706
  • Molino Basin Trail #1

Officials have not yet reported the cause of the fire.
Updated on September 9, 2023 at 12:52 p.m.

Coronado National Forest officials released an update Saturday afternoon. They say the fire is currently at 485 acres, with 23% containment.

Updated on September 8, 2023 at 6:10 p.m.

Firefighters have been busy on Mt. Lemmon Friday, working to contain the Molino 3 Wildfire, with broke out in Molino Basin Thursday early evening.

This afternoon the Forest Service adjusted the size of the fire from 1000 acres to 425 acres after special plane conducted dozens of flyovers, making more precise measurements than what was available earlier.

The fire itself has been hard to see, as it’s nestled in the Molino Basin's bowl-shaped area, blocking the view in most directions. What KGUN 9's cameras could see throughout the day were the several fire retardant drops by plane into the affected area.

“It's very rugged terrain, lots of deep crevasses," U.S. Forest Service spokesperson Starr Farrell told us.

"So it's not somewhere that you're gonna go out and go for a leisurely hike. Now we do have some trails that are closed down, just because the possibility of interaction with firefighters moving in and out of the area, or potential for that fire to spread into it. So there are some closures and those are listed on our Facebook page and on our Coronado National Forest website.”

For those curious about going up the mountain to see the fire, the Forest Service is discouraging people from making the trip up the Mt. Lemmon Highway for fear they may interfere with emergency vehicles.

And while trips are discouraged, the road itself remains open. People who do need to drive the Mt. Lemmon Highway can call the road closure hotline for updates at (520) 547-7510.

As of Friday evening, the following trails are closed through Friday, Sept. 15:

  • Babad Do’ag Trail #705,
  • Molino Basin Trail #11,
  • Soldier Trail #706

The recreational shooting area along the highway is also closed, reports Coronado National Forest.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Updated on September 8, 2023 at 4:18 p.m.

New measurements of the burn area show about 425 acres have burned in the Molino 3 fire.

Updated on September 8, 2023 at 12:12 p.m.

KGUN 9's Craig Smith is on Mt. Lemmon and will bring continuing coverage on firefighting efforts throughout the day.

Coronado National Forest reports air support is currently assisting with fire fighting efforts. Additional support—both air and ground crews—are being deployed.

Traffic control is in effect on Mt. Lemmon Highway. Fire crews are asking the public not to drive up the highway, and not to hike in the Molino Basin area.

For real-time road closure updates, the public is advised to call (520) 547-7510.

Below is a view of the smoke coming from Molino Basin on Mt. Lemmon. As Craig Smith explains, the shape of the basin makes the fire itself inaccessible to our cameras at the moment.

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A view of the Molino 3 Wildfire from Houghton Road in Tucson shows smoke rising out of the Molino Basin on Mt. Lemmon.

Updated on September 8, 2023 at 9:55 a.m.

This morning Coronado National Forest reports the Molino 3 fire grew over night to about 1000 acres, and is still at 0% containment.

An update from CNF says aerial support has been requested and is on its way. Crews on the ground are working along the fire's northern and western edges. The fires is moving toward previous burn scars left by the Molino 1 and Molino 2 fires.

CNF reports that Catalina Highway is currently open, with Babad Do’ag Trail closed. Coronado National Forest officials say they plan to close Soldier Trail later in the day; those hiking the area are asked to leave.

The shooting area along the highway is currently closed, says CNF.

Updated on September 7, 2023 at 9:12 p.m.

CNF says the fire has now expanded to about 40-50 acres with no containment.
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The Coronado National Forest (CNF) responded to a fire designated the 'Molino 3 Wildfire' in the Santa Catalinas.

The Molino 3 Wildfire began around 5 p.m. on the ridgeline above Molino Basin, according to CNF, and near the Mt. Lemmon Highway.

Rangers say about 10-15 acres are burning with no containment. They say the cause is currently under investigation.

CNF is asking the public to avoid the area. Drivers and cyclists should use caution on the road, as CNF says there will be increased fire traffic.