Last night Forest Service officials announced public closures due to the Tucson Bighorn Fire. Visitors will not be able to access most of Mount Lemmon or Sabino Canyon until November 1. Officials cite concern over post-fire floods and runoff issues. Residents should be advised that these restrictions are for their own safety. The city will cite and fine violators.
Coronado Spokeswoman Dorilis Camacho warned that though the entire mountain may not close, all major hiking trails are off-limits. She explained officials’ reasoning in an email to the Star. “The Bighorn Fire and post-fire conditions increased the possibility of flooding downstream, increased runoff, and the probability of debris flows. This is why we are implementing an area closure on both Sabino Canyon and Mount Lemmon.”
This order takes effect at 8 PM tonight, July 15. Steer clear of the area if you are unsure about the boundaries.
Pima County Sheriff’s Department issued a statement this morning. Spokesperson James Allerton said they would work with the Department of Transportation to assess risk. “We need to make sure the road itself is safe,” he insisted. Allerton said they would examine guard rails and hazardous trees to begin.
Officials hope to open the park before November 1. But other parks in the area remain unaffected. Both Summerhaven and Catalina State Park may open when they choose. Nature lovers, keep an eye out for that.
In the meantime, the city will be enforcing these closures. Officers can fine violators up to $5,000 individually. They may also choose to fine organizations up to $10,000. A six-month prison sentence is also on the table. They mean business. So take care if you are going to hike on the open roads near the affected area.
Firefighters have contained the Bighorn Fire at 89% as of Tuesday. It has so far spread across 119, 541 acres. The fire originally began June 5 of this year. That is 47 days (and counting). While residents may be eager to return to their favorite hiking trails, they will have to practice patience. This blaze was big enough to do some damage and it will take time to return the national park to a safe state for visitors.