New evacuation ordered in area of Bighorn Fire north of Tucson
PHOENIX — Officials issued a new evacuation order Tuesday afternoon for residents near the Bighorn Fire in southern Arizona’s Catalina Mountains.
The boundaries of the evacuation zone are Mount Lemmon/Mount Bigelow north of Organization Ridge Road, including Summerhaven, according to the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.
Residents were told at 1:30 p.m. to leave the area immediately by heading south on Catalina Highway.
An evacuation center was opened at Sahuaro High School in Tucson. Large animals can be sheltered at Rillito Racetrack.
❗️GO! – Evacuate❗️ The general boundaries of the zone are Mt. Lemmon/ Mt. Bigelow north of Organization Ridge Rd, including Summerhaven are asked to EVACUATE NOW. Full release here https://t.co/ouqAWEhae1. Interactive Map here https://t.co/7MQhGOy1cJ #BighornFire pic.twitter.com/Y1jnHTil3b
— Pima County Sheriff's Department (@PimaSheriff) June 16, 2020
The lightning-caused blaze north of Tucson started June 5 and had consumed 15,805 acres and was 40% contained as of Tuesday night, according to authorities.
There are currently 700 personnel working to contain the blaze and night shift crews will be monitoring activity in the community of Summerhaven and around Mount Lemmon.
Authorities expect active fire behavior through the night due to a lack of humidity and wind speed reaching up to 35 MPH at higher elevations.
Flames have been visible from Tucson at night.
A previous evacuation notice was issued Thursday for about 300 homes in a different area near the fire as crews worked to keep the flames from moving downhill in a mountainous area, but it was lifted the next day.
High temperatures and gusty winds have created challenging conditions for firefighters, who also are dealing with steep, rocky terrain.
Catalina State Park is closed because of the fire, and portions of the Coronado National Forest Santa Catalina Ranger District are restricted. Catalina Highway is also closed at milepost zero except for residents and business owners.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.