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Summerhaven ready to get back to summer as usual following Burro Fire and evacuations

Mt. Lemmon restrictions ease as Burro Fire fades
Posted at 5:23 PM, Jul 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-12 00:57:25-04

Firefighters have gained the upper hand on the burro fire burning in the Reddington Pass area since late June. 

As of Tuesday night the containment level was officially 74% but after recent monsoon storms fire managers have begun to draw down personnel and equipment, believing the battle is won.

Ken Born, Santa Catalina District Ranger announce the general public will likely be allowed back up the mountain on Friday.

In Summerhaven, Incident Commander Bea Day said the rain that has doused this fire over the last couple days is the reason why they decided to let residents and people who work in Summerhaven back up the mountain.

“We were waiting until we got significant moisture on the fire until we felt confident that the fire will stay where it is on the landscape right now and then we made the decision to allow the residents back up into this part of the country,” she explained.

But not everyone evacuated. Mt. Lemmon Fire District Chief Stan Wagaman said some people, mostly employees from the water district and volunteer firefighters, stayed in the village to make sure water lines were ready if the fire got close and also cleared flammable materials from people's homes.

“They were truly selfless and dedicated and that's the kind of people you have up here in this community,” Wagaman said.

Steven Sanders, who also lives in Summerhaven, says the freezers and pantry at the Sawmill Run Restaurant he manages were full of food ahead of the Independence Day weekend when the fire started and evacuations were ordered.

Sanders fed those volunteers, wildland firefighters, and sheriff’s deputies at the restaurant. Each day they'd gather around tables, decorated for red, white, and blue carnations, to eat and relax.

When Sanders ran low on eggs, he says a neighbor collected eggs from people's backyard chicken coops.

“They probably tasted better because we were all together as a community,” he said. “We all got to come together twice a day and relieve stress and talk about what’s going on and what our plans were.”

But he says after more than a week of isolation, the tightknit community was happy to hear mountain will likely be open to everyone again Friday.

But before visitors fill the parking lot in front of his restaurant Sanders plans to invite his neighbors to fill the seats in the dining room, “I want to show the Mt. Lemmon residents up here that we're not going to let a fire shut us down.”