Starting Thursday at noon, all of the Coronado National Forest will close to the public, because of extreme fire danger. The closure includes campgrounds and scenic overlooks on Mt. Lemmon and Sabino and Madera Canyons. Forest officials say fire conditions are as bad as they have ever seen, and the closure is a way to decrease the risk of more fires starting.

Coronado National Forest Supervisor Jim Upchurch says there’s been widespread non-compliance of fire restrictions that were put in place three weeks ago. He says forest users are still lighting campfires and even using fireworks.

PHOTO: Mark Duggan
The Coronado's Fire Management Officer Kristy Lund and Supervisor Jim Upchurch announce the closure.

The closure will include all units of the Coronado, but with some conditions. The public will be able to use the Mt. Lemmon Highway from dawn to dusk. Access will be limited to the town of Summerhaven, while overlooks and roads leading to campgrounds will be closed. Summerhaven residents and business owners will also be able to access the mountain. The closure will be enforced by officials with the Forest Service and the Pima County Sheriff's Department.

Three fires continue to burn in the Coronado, including the Horseshoe Two Fire, which has been burning for almost a month. So far this year, wildfires have burned a total of 200,000 acres of Coronado National Forest land, and suppression costs have exceeded $30 million.

PHOTO: Mark Duggan
A quilt at the Tucson Inter Agency Fire Center commemorates various Arizona wildfires.

Read the Coronado National Forest's press release on the forest closure: View at Google Docs | Download File

Find up-to-the-minute fire information at AZPM's Wildfire Central here.