Bighorn Fire update: Summerhaven and Willow Canyon residents, business owners allowed to return

Bighorn Fire update: Summerhaven and Willow Canyon residents, business owners allowed to return
The Bighorn Fire left large areas totally burned out. (Source: Pima County Transportation via Facebook)

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Officials have had nothing but good news to share about the Bighorn Fire the last few days.

The fire burning in the Santa Catalina Mountains remains at 119,020 acres and 75 percent containment as of Monday, July 6.

Bighorn Fire update July 6, 2020

LIVE: Officials give update on Bighorn Fire. >> https://tucsonne.ws/2Cf5hkg

Posted by KOLD News 13 on Monday, July 6, 2020

The Incident Management Team (IMT) has planned for an organized return to Summerhaven residents and business owners to include Willow Canyon. Due to the fire still being active on some parts of the mountain, there will be restrictions as to when Catalina Highway can be accessed. Fire vehicles and personnel may be blocking the roadway at certain times to operate. For your safety, please abide by the following restrictions.

Summerhaven and Willow Canyon FULL TIME residents and business owners will be allowed to return starting Tuesday, July 7 with the following restrictions:

  • Residents and business owners will be escorted by a Pima County Sheriff’s Department patrol car in a convoy along Catalina Highway until further notice. The escorting vehicle will have its overhead lights on during the escort.

The daily schedule is:

8:00 am – Leaving MP 0 for Willow Canyon

12:00 noon- Leaving Willow Canyon near MP 16 for MP 0

1:00 pm – Leaving MP 0 for Willow Canyon

5:00 pm – Leaving Willow Canyon near MP 16 for MP 0

  • You must be at Willow Canyon at 12:00 noon or 5:00 pm in order to come back down the mountain with the mandatory escort.

THE SCHEDULE MAY BE CHANGED DUE TO FIRE CONDITIONS.

  • No stopping along the route for photos, etc.
  • People may stay overnight or longer, and are free to travel from Willow Canyon to Summerhaven and within Summerhaven, but may not use Catalina Highway unless escorted.
  • No hiking, walking, camping, or other activities are permitted in the forest.
  • Violators will be escorted off the mountain and will not allowed to return until it is fully opened.
  • Access for non-full time residents will be evaluated by the IMT over the next week.

A community trash dumpster will be located in the parking area south of the Community Center. Please dispose of spoiled food in that container.

An interactive map of the evacuation zones can be found at the top of this story and HERE.


Weather: Today will be mostly sunny other than a few afternoon clouds. Minimum humidity levels will range from 8 to 13% across the lower elevations and near 25% over the higher elevations. Temperatures will range from 101 to 107 degrees in the valley.

Sunday’s Activity: Fire remains active in the areas south and west of Willow Canyon, and aviation assets were used to cool several areas that showed increased fire activity. Due to the extremely rugged terrain in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness and the lack of safety zones, fire managers have determined that it is unsafe for firefighters to make a direct attack on the fire in this area. Efforts are ongoing to keep the fire west of the Catalina Highway as it slowly moves south toward Windy Point. Suppression rehabilitation and repair, along with backhauling equipment, continued on the northern flank of the fire, with dozers and excavators repairing suppression lines and installing water bars to prevent erosion and slow water flow.

Monday’s Activity: Firefighters will continue to secure and control fire line around Summerhaven. In the area surrounding the Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, several hazard trees have been identified and sawyers will work to fell those trees today. Firefighters will continue to patrol the Sabino Canyon area as fire approaches slowly from the north. Helicopters will be utilized again today to drop buckets of water to cool hotspots near the southern flank of the fire, south of Willow Canyon. Backhaul and rehabilitation will continue for the next several days. Several crews and resources are demobilizing today due to successful firefighting efforts, and as rehabilitation activities are completed.

You can ready more about the flood dangers HERE.

On Friday, crews got their first look at the damage on Mount Lemmon. You can see photos and video of the destruction HERE.

Areas north of Sabino Canyon, like Tanque Verde, will likely see a lot of smoke the next several days. You can check out the smoke forecast HERE.


Ready, Set, Go! is a nationwide program that educates residents about proactive measures to take before an emergency and actions to follow when communities are threatened. Learn more about the program HERE.

  • If your area is set to “READY” you should prepare for threats to your community.
  • If your area is put on “SET" mode, there is significant danger and you should consider voluntarily evacuating.
  • When your area is put on “GO!" you should leave the area immediately.

An interactive map of the current orders for the Tucson area can be found at the top of this story or HERE.

The areas under a “GO!” order are:

  • Mt. Lemmon, Summerhaven, Mt. Bigelow
  • Lower Catalina Highway/Lower Mt. Lemmon Communities from Organization Ridge Road to South Willow Canyon

The areas under a “SET” order are:

  • None

The areas under a “READY” order are:

  • The eastern Catalinas, east of Mt. Lemmon highway at Milepost 3, north of Redington Road, bounded on the north and east by the county lines to include the community of Redington.
  • Community of Oracle
  • Peppersauce Canyon to Highjinks Road and Campo Benito
  • Oro Valley areas from Catalina State Park south to Magee Road
  • Portions of east Golder Ranch area
  • Catalina foothills areas from First Avenue to Alvernon Way
  • Catalina foothills areas east of Kolb Road within northern areas of Ventana Canyon neighborhoods
  • Catalina foothills between Alvernon Way and Kolb Road, north of Skyline Drive
  • C1 Cascabel to Hookers Hot Springs
  • C2 Cascabel south and north of Pomerene
  • C3 Mescal to Pomerene.


WHERE TO GO FOR HELP

Right now, there are no shelters open. Anyone who needs help can call the Red Cross at 1-800-842-7349.

For a list of resources available to residents and firefighters, go to https://www.kold.com/2020/06/12/help-available-residents-firefighters-impacted-by-bighorn-fire/

Those under evacuation orders from the fire may go there for assistance, to cool off, get snacks, and other information.

Large animal sheltering is at Rillito Racetrack, 4502 North First Avenue in Tucson.

Small animal sheltering will be done at Pima Animal Care Center, 4000 N. Silverbell Road in Tucson. The after-hours number is 520-724-5900 and press 4. The daytime line is 520-724-5961. More information can be found HERE.


STAY INFORMED

Residents are urged to sign up to receive emergency alerts at myalerts.pima.gov.

Visit pima.gov/bighorn for the most up-to-date information on evacuation notices and county resources.

If you have animals and are affected by the evacuation notices, the Pima Animal Care Center has plans to board animals.

You can sign up for Oro Valley’s Code RED Emergency Alert System at https://public.coderedweb.com/CNE/en-US/BF3109484564.

Questions from residents in the area should be directed to 351-FIRE (3473)

Bighorn Fire information can be found HERE.

Pima County Emergency Alert information can be found HERE.

Find out more about the Ready, Set, Go program HERE.


CLOSURES & RESTRICTIONS

Cascabel Road at the Cochise County/Pima County line is now open. Sabino Canyon, Bear Canyon, and Catalina State Park are closed. Catalina Highway is closed to the public at milepost zero.

Catalina State Park is also closed, as is Sabino and Bear canyons. Most trails have also been closed. You can view the entire closure order HERE.

Large portions of the Coronado National Forest, Santa Catalina Ranger District near the fire are restricted. View the closure order and map HERE.

A temporary flight restriction is in place over the fire area.

Two unlawful drone incursions have occurred since the fire ignited on June 5, illegally interfering with the efforts of firefighters to extinguish a fire. Doing so can result in a significant fine or a mandatory court appearance.


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