On the morning of Monday, July 13, the Southwest Area Incident Management Team formally transferred command over the Bighorn Fire back to the Coronado National Forest. This came after fire crews announced the fire was 92 percent contained after burning through roughly 119,000 acres.
The fire burned across the Santa Catalina Mountains for more than a month, after being ignited by a lightning strike on June 5. High temperatures and strong gusts hampered containment procedures for multiple weeks. However, fire crews gradually got a hold of the blaze as the monsoon neared. On Saturday, July 11, the southern slopes of the fire received approximately .25 inches of rain, which helped further contain the diminishing blaze.
As of Monday, July 13, 239 fire personnel still remained on the task, down from nearly 1,000 personnel three weeks prior. Much of the work now involves repairing and maintaining fire lines as clean-up begins. According to the Southwest Area Incident Management Team, fire crews recently completed chipping operations at the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter and Mount Bigelow, and felled hazard trees in Spencer Campground.
Their next objective is to identify and assess hazard trees that may require removal due to the high winds received over the fire area. Chipping, backhaul, and suppression rehabilitation will continue in the Summerhaven area, as well as other portions of the fire.
Speaking of Summerhaven, fire crews report that no structures have been lost in Summerhaven. The Catalina Highway up Mount Lemmon is slowly reopening, with only business owners and residents of the mountain communities allowed to return as Monday, July 13.
The fire continues to smolder in the bottom of Willow Canyon below Catalina Highway. Over the coming week, isolated showers and thunderstorms are possible, which may help put the finishing touches on the Bighorn Fire.