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tmatlack
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PostMon Jun 15, 2020 4:18 am 
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All,

Please send prayers, best energies, and rain dances to North Tucson/Santa Catalina front range as the Elkhorn Fire threatens an arc from Golder Ranch/Catalina all the way around to Sabino Canyon.  Many homes are threatened or lost and the forested upper reaches of Mt. Lemmon have already been burned fairly recently.

In my opinion, much blame falls on Pima County and City of Tucson zoning which allowed million dollar mission style homes up in the canyons abutting the Coronado NF but we all know what development pressure/$$$$ is and the stressors on wildlife habitat and water resources.

Much safety to the firefighters: hot shot and aerial crews.

Tom
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neek
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PostMon Jun 15, 2020 9:28 am 
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tmatlack wrote:
Please send prayers, best energies, and rain dances to North Tucson/Santa Catalina front range as the Elkhorn Fire threatens an arc from Golder Ranch/Catalina all the way around to Sabino Canyon.  Many homes are threatened or lost and the forested upper reaches of Mt. Lemmon have already been burned fairly recently.

Bighorn fire?  I was just hiking around there last year, too bad.
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capbiker
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PostMon Jun 15, 2020 12:18 pm 
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It's called the Bighorn Fire, after the bighorn sheep that have been relocated there in a complex and controversial program. The fire was started by lightning strike, fairly down low on Pusch Ridge. As far as I know, no homes have been lost due to an amazing effort by firefighters. This fire has proceeded in multiple directions, and currently is making it's way up toward Mt. Lemmon. As someone who was born and raised in Tucson, and now makes my winter home there, this is devastating. The Santa Catalina Mountains are very unique in the desert environment in which they sit. Let's hope that there will be no loss to homes or humanity. It's a tough fire to fight from the ground, and it's hotter than heck there, extremely dry and windy conditions. And it's only June....
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thunderhead
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PostTue Jun 16, 2020 9:48 am 
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tmatlack wrote:
In my opinion, much blame falls on Pima County and City of Tucson zoning which allowed million dollar mission style homes up in the canyons abutting the Coronado NF

Its been 8 years since I lived in that neighborhood, but at that time all the homes were 1000 vertical feet or so below the level of significant biomass.  Not sure there is much fire risk to the outskirts of Tucson...  The desert floor isn't bare... but its pretty low fuel loading IIRC even in the foothills neighborhoods.

The tiny community in the dry trees up near the Mt Lemmon summit is a different story of course.  That place has to be one of the riskiest fire locations on earth.



Tucson Junes are rough months.  It usually hasn't rained in a couple months, the desert summer sun is downright oppressive... I'd go on jogs at 11pm and it would still be 95F out.  I feel for those fire crews.  Bring on the monsoon!  2 weeks!
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marta
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PostWed Jun 17, 2020 12:00 pm 
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This is so sad. We hiked up Romero Canyon from Catalina State Park last year during the wildflower bloom and the trail area has burned.  They evacuated Mt. Lemmon and Summerhaven yesterday.  To make things worse - there is a red flag warning and gust on the ridges up to 40mph.
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Joey
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PostWed Jun 17, 2020 7:37 pm 
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Bighorn fire map showing data from last night's infrared flight and satellite hotspots.  For more info click the links in the upper left corner.

https://mappingsupport.com/p2/gissurfer.php?center=32.449751,-110.803471&zoom=14&basemap=ESRI_scanned_topo_USA&overlay=VIIRS_24_hours,MODIS_24_hours,ESRI_roads_and_labels&txtfile=https://mappingsupport.com/p2/special_maps/disaster/USA_wildland_fire.txt&fire=AZ,Bighorn
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tmatlack
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PostSun Jun 21, 2020 2:02 am 
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Fire has shifted more to the north and is threatening the little mountain town of Oracle and perhaps our old 'hood in San Manuel.  San Manuel is on broad sloping plain or bajada above the San Pedro River valley and is perfect exposure for Sonoran cacti: saguaro, cholla, prickly pear, and the scrubby trees such as catclaw acacia and palo verde.

In 6 years there fire was never even talked about so I am not sure how dangerous that cacti garden fuel load would be.  Oracle is a whole different story with very difficult terrain and much more brushy fuels.

Tom
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gb
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PostSun Jun 21, 2020 7:33 am 
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There is very good ongoing discussion and images, etc. on the Tucson and very large Phoenix area fires at https://wildfiretoday.com

I never visited Tucson but have several friends who described Mt. Lemmon as a really cool place - they rock climbed a lot in the area, but also desert hiked.
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HikerJohn
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PostSun Jun 21, 2020 8:40 am 
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Friends of mine live in Saddlebrooke (a golf and retirement community) southwest of Oracle (over near Catalina). They report that people are sitting in their back yards watching the water and retardant bombers dropping and cheering each drop like they were at the fireworks.

Doug reports that it's scary at night seeing hundreds of little lights on the ridge and realizing that they aren't flashlights...
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tmatlack
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PostMon Jun 22, 2020 1:57 am 
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The northern lobe of the fire is above Hijinks Mine/Arizona Trail at American Flag on the shoulder of Santa Catalinas.

Hijinks is an inholding ranch/bed and breakfast including gold mining claims owned by Buffalo Bill Cody.

If the fire moves east it could threaten the USFS campground and day use area of Peppersauce Canyon.  Peppersauce is a riparian canyon with huge old sycamores shading the picnic area. There is a youth camp at the downcanyon end, the back road up Mt. Lemmon goes through the site, a huge undeveloped cave, and flocks of wild turkeys.  The Arizona Trail is nearby as well.

This would be a major loss for Pinal County and Coronado NF.

Tom
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thunderhead
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PostWed Jun 24, 2020 8:57 am 
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The peppersauce cave is sweet!  Fortunately the fire can't harm that!
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80skeys
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PostThu Jun 25, 2020 9:46 am 
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My parents in Albuquerque saying the smoke from the Arizona fires has settled over their area.
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Randy
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PostFri Jun 26, 2020 4:41 pm 
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We've been down here for a week; NW corner of the range or Saddlebrook for those that know the area. My parents backyard butts right up against the foothills of the Santa Catalinas, so we've had a front row seat.

Wednesday was dramatic. The fire moved quickly to the west approaching the houses. The lightshow was otherworldly as the underlying brush, junipers, ocotillos, and mesquite trees burned without pause.

Incredibly impressive work by the Santa Fe Hothsots (FS fire crew) who rapidly established a fire perimeter around 10 PM Wednesday that likely saved our corner of the neighborhood. Darkness, oppressive 95+ degree heat, complex and inaccessible terrain all in full gear must have been brutal.  up.gif

The fire initiated from the south and worked the entire range to the north then came west as mentioned. Due to the work of the firefighters it then turned south once again as its westerly advance was halted by the Hotshots. It found new fuel sources as it moved south along the west side of the range and currently sits about a mile south of us. This morning was one Chinook after another dropping fire retardant to stop any additional movement and seems to have worked for now.

About 500 yards of preserved terrain stretches east from our house and stands in contrast to the black and brown terrain of the upper mountain all still smoking.
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