Bighorn Fire Keeps Arizona Recreational Areas Closed Until November

Wildfire burned over 180 square miles




TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Several popular outdoor recreation areas in a national forest on the outskirts of Tucson will remain closed until Nov. 1 because of a largely contained wildfire’s potential for causing flooding from monsoon rains and other hazards, authorities said.

The fire has burned 187 square miles (484 square kilometers) in and near the Santa Catalina Mountains since lightning started it June 5. The fire was contained around 89% of its perimeter as of Wednesday.

Areas remaining closed include the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area in the south side of the mountains, cabins on national forest land and all major hiking trails, Coronado National Forest officials said.

Owners of those cabins have until Friday night to vacate the area, and access to recreational residences will be reevaluated weekly, officials said.

Permanent residents of the mountaintop community of Summerhaven, businesses with permits to operate there, and employees of observatories on Mount Lemmon and of the Mount Lemmon Fire District are exempt from the restrictions, District Ranger C.J. Woodard said.

Summerhaven itself is not in national forest land and is not covered by the Forest Service’s formal closure order.

The Mount Lemmon Highway remains closed to the general public while the fire is still burning but likely will reopen before Nov. 1, said James Allerton, a Pima County Sheriff’s Department spokesman.

Once the fire is out, “we need to make sure the road itself is safe.” Allerton said Wednesday.

Catalina State Park remains closed due to the fire but is outside the national forest so it can reopen when state officials choose to do that, Woodard said.

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