TUCSON, ARIZ. - The U.S. Forest Service is so concerned about dangers left over from the Bighorn Fire that it’s closing a large part of the mountain until Nov. 1. But you will still be able to visit parts of the mountain as soon as the road re-opens.
Big fires like the Bighorn can leave lingering danger behind.
Trees weakened by fire can fall without warning.
Monsoon rains can create mudslides when water rushes down slopes where the fire destroyed ground cover.
To avoid accidents the Forest Service is closing the land it controls and closing it until November First to get well past monsoon. That closure includes cabins on Forest Service land.
But that does not close out the mountain completely. Places like Summerhaven are not under Federal control.
Christine Pearson of the Forest Service says, “So if they have private property at Summerhaven they just need to produce evidence of that proof of it to the checkpoints and they will allow them in.”
Access to Summerhaven will still have to wait until the Sheriff’s Department rules the road is safe but that gives Grey Carpenter of Mount Lemmon’s General Store hope he can salvage some of his summer business.
He feels badly for people who won’t be able to use cabins on Forest Service land but hopes visitors do understand Summerhaven will be open.
He says, “If we can get open for August or at least part of August, that's a big deal and I think that a lot of Tucson is really anxious to get up here and I think will benefit from that a lot so I'm really excited if that happens.”
The Forest Service can use the closure time on its land to mitigate the hazards and it says it will reassess often to see if it can open that part of the mountain sooner than November 1st.