The Main Stream

Jun 6, 2011 9:04 PM

Coronado National Forest to shut down

TUCSON - Arizona's wildfires have already taken such a toll, for the first time ever all of the Coronado National Forest will soon be shut down.

The combination of multiple fires including the Horseshoe 2 and Murphy fires has burned more than 200-thousand acres of the Coronado National Forest.

Conditions aren't getting any better so officials made the decision to shut everything down on Thursday at noon.

Coronado National Forest is made up of almost 2 million acres used for camping, hiking, and even fishing in some areas, but with conditions only getting worse the decision was made to shut it all down on Thursday at noon.

The shut down includes Sabino Canyon, Saguaro National Forest and most of Mount Lemmon. The only part that will remain open will be Summerhaven on top of Mount Lemmon.

The forest service said Coronado National Forest is seeing conditions like it's never seen before and of late fires like even firefighters have never seen before.

Kristy Lund with the Coronado National Forest said, "Every crew in the country that has come on and available for duty was here with the exception of two."

They've told people over and over about the dangers and that things like camp fires and fireworks are forbidden but they said people just aren't listening.

Jim Upchurch the Forest Supervisor said, "We've had fire restrictions in place on the Coronado for 3 weeks now. We've had good cooperation but overall we're seeing wide spread non compliance."

So the decision was made to just shut it all down.

Upchurch said, "If you can try to reduce and minimize the evacuations to a low level it's a plus. We're also trying to reduce fire starts as well."

Its a decision that will affect thousands, but perhaps no-one more than Andrew Dennehy and his fiancé Ronnie. They have a wedding planned this weekend up on Mount Lemmon.

Dennehy said, "We had everything all planned and ready to go and then we get this news here today so you can understand we're extremely surprised and taken aback by what we may have to do to change the location of our wedding."

The forest service and county leaders are trying to see if an exception can be made but either way the couple said the wedding will go on. Dennehy said, "We will have a wedding. We'll find another location if necessary."
Officials are still working out all the details of how they're going to go about shutting all of the 2 million acres down. They admit enforcing it will be a challenge but if you get caught you will get a ticket.

As for when it will reopen they said it will take a significant rain; something that could take awhile.

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