Posted 5:24 PM 5/24/2012 : Crews continue their cleanup efforts after last year's Murphy fire
TUCSON - Aftermath from the Murphy Complex fire, which burned over 68,000 acres of land last year, can still be seen in Rio Rico, especially along State Route 289.
In preparation for summer and the monsoon, Arizona Department of Transportation crews started clearing the weak and brittle trees that were burned in the blaze.
Elizabeth Gonzalez, who lives near the route, was extremely close to being evacuated when flames reached her backyard.
"It was very scary, very scary," she said.
She says summertime means more families may be driving along the route, heading to Pena Blanca Lake and the Coronado National Forest. All the dead and weak trees pose a danger for drivers.
John Hays, the Santa Cruz County Floodplain Coordinator, says clearing the brush is a wise move.
"Sooner or later dead trees always do the same thing. They fall down," Hays said.
Which is why ADOT is acting now, before rain makes the task even harder.
"There's no lighting out here. You're driving along at night. Black asphalt...you've got a tree that's fallen down and it's black from the fire..it's going to be hard pressed to see it and react in time," Hays continued.
To help with soil erosion, or any future flooding, the ADOT crews are laying all the dead branches in a cross slope pattern. Leaving them in the area also provides more nutrients for the soil.
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