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Bighorn Fire enters new phase

Work underway to reduce erosion of scorched land
Posted at 6:12 PM, Jul 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-06 21:12:20-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - There’s a new phase in the fight against the Bighorn Fire. Firefighters are starting work to reduce the dangers that remain after the fire is out.

Over the weekend firefighting command changed from a Type One management team to a Type Two. The change signals the fire is still demanding but it’s become less complex to manage.

About three quarters of the fire is contained, but firefighters and helicopters are working to be sure the zones still uncontained do not funnel the fire into areas where it could put people or properties in danger.

But the high containment lets fire managers shift resources into reducing the risks fires leave behind. The fire burned out the plants that keep the soil from washing away once the monsoon arrives so crews are working to slow runoff and reduce the chance of mudslides.

Bighorn Fire Public Information Officer Brandalyn Karren says, “Right now we have heavy equipment in there, such as dozers or excavators going back in and taking that scraped bare ground, and just covering that back up, it could include seeding it could include putting vegetation like branches and bushes back into that area just again to get it back to the natural state.”

The Pima County Sheriff’s Department ordered evacuations that cleared out about three hundred homes and businesses between Summerhaven and Willow Canyon. Now the Department will co -ordinate with the Forest Service to decide when it’s safe to let people back in.

Deputy James Allerton says, “We are going to let them up as soon as we possibly can. And we know the whole community wants to be able to access the mountain and be able to return as soon as possible. As soon as it's safe. And as soon as we can we're going to reopen the mountain.”

And firefighters say they are grateful for all the community support they’ve had as they’ve fought the Bighorn Fire.