Phoenix Fire Department recommending extending summer trail closures as rescues rise

Aug 30, 2023, 12:03 PM | Updated: 1:02 pm

(X Photo/Phoenix Fire Department)...

(X Photo/Phoenix Fire Department)

(X Photo/Phoenix Fire Department)

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Fire Department wants to extend trail closure hours on days of extreme heat following an increase in rescues this summer.

Capt. Todd Keller told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Wednesday that the department wants closures from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on days where excessive heat warnings are in effect and to have the option to close trails year round.

Currently, Camelback Mountain’s Echo and Cholla trails and the Piestewa Peak Summit and associated trails close from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on days when the National Weather Service issues warnings.

“We’re seeing people having emergencies in the early parts of the day,” Keller said. “We just want to try to be proactive on this and make it as safe as we can for our hikers on our trails.”

As recently as Saturday, firefighters were dispatched to North Mountain in Phoenix for reports of a man in his 30s overcome by heat and needing assistance. The incident occurred around 10 a.m. and the low temperature that day was 92 degrees.

Phoenix is in the midst of likely its hottest summer on record and has seen 34 days of overnight lows of at least 90 degrees, shattering the previous record of 28 in a year.

A decision would need approval from the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board.

“It is a recommendation right now, so we’re pushing up to the parks department along with us getting together and making that decision,” Keller said.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Kate Ourada contributed to this report.

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Phoenix Fire Department recommending extending summer trail closures as rescues rise