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Summerhaven warned of possible evacuation as Bighorn Fire climbs Mt. Lemmon

Golder Ranch evacuation order lifted Sunday evening

Residents of Summerhaven atop the Santa Catalina Mountains should be "set" to evacuate as the Bighorn wildfire has moved up the slopes toward Mt. Lemmon. Residents in the Golder Ranch area below can return to their homes after evacuating Friday night but should remain prepared, officials said.

The "set" alert issued Sunday evening covers the Mt. Lemmon/ Mt. Bigelow north of the Organization Ridge Road area, including the village of Summerhaven.

There is "significant danger" in the area due to the blaze, officials said.

"Residents should consider voluntarily relocating outside the affected area with family/friends. Residents should avoid close contact with those who are sick and should practice public health recommendations when relocating. Grab your emergency go kit. Keep in mind unique needs for your family or special equipment for pets and livestock," PCSD said.

"Set - be alert" is the second stage of Arizona's evacuation alert system, and residents should be "Set" and "be alert" and ready to leave their homes if notified, officials said.

The Catalina Highway will be closed at the base, with only residents and business owners allowed to drive up. Power has been cut on top of the mountain because electrical lines were threatened by the fire.

"Stay aware of the latest news and information from public safety and public health officials," the Pima County Sheriff's Department said. "This might be the only notice you receive. Emergency services cannot guarantee they will be able to notify everyone if conditions rapidly deteriorate. Be SET to GO."

Catalina State Park area still on 'set' status

Residents in the Golder Ranch area near Catalina State Park can return to their homes, officials said Sunday evening.

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But that area, which was evacuated Friday night, remains covered by a "set" warning, they said.

"Residents should note the fire will appear to be in close proximity.  Fire crews will continually access dangers and the fire's behavior.  It is imperative to remain alert," the Sheriff's Department said.

Areas along the north edge of the Catalina Foothills also remain covered by a "set" warning to be prepared, officials said.

Burned area tops 13,000 acres

The area burned by the blaze hit 13,200 acres by Sunday night, after reaching 12,345 acres in the morning, Forest Service officials said. But the assessment of how much the wildfire is contained doubled during the day, despite its growth up the mountain. Sunday morning, the fire was 11 percent contained, but officials said it was 22 percent contained by evening.

The fire, which started with a lightning strike last Friday, crept over Pusch Ridge and grown along the southern flank of the Catalinas, reaching more than 4,700 acres Thursday morning, after topping 3,200 acres Wednesday evening. Friday morning, officials said it had topped 7,000 acres burned, hitting 9,000 blackened acres by that night.

About 630 firefighters were working the blaze Sunday, including six hotshot crews and seven helicopters. Thursday and earlier in the week, about 400 firefighters had been working to stem the wildfire.

From Pima County:

Ready, Set, Go is the state's evacuation alert system. The three steps encourage Arizonans to get READY by preparing now for what threatens their community, to be SET by maintaining awareness of significant danger, and to GO, to evacuate immediately when the danger is current and life-threatening.

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Residents should consider voluntarily relocating outside the affected area with family/friends.

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Residents should avoid close contact with those who are sick and should practice public health recommendations when relocating. Grab your emergency go kit. Keep in mind unique needs for your family or special equipment for pets and livestock.

From the Forest Service:

The east flank of the Bighorn Fire is most active in the area between Buster Spring and Cargodera Spring, putting up thick smoke that is visible from the community of Summerhaven. Overnight, crews working on Mt. Lemmon will monitor the fire progression to the northeast and are prepared to initiate firing operations as needed to secure that section of the perimeter.

Fire will be wind-driven into the night, carried through grass and mesquite to the northeast. Winds may also stoke fire in upper reaches of Ventana and Esperero Canyons, with flames visible on the front range of the Santa Catalina Mountains.

Crews increased containment along the western and southern edges of the fire today, bringing the containment percentage up to 22%. Firefighters will continue to patrol those areas to ensure the containment lines are not compromised.

Map of 'set' areas warned to be prepared for evacuations

Lookie-loos asked to stay away

Authorities asked this weekend that the public avoid the Oro Valley/Catalina area "unless they are going to their homes or conducting business," because congestion from non-residents is "creating roadway dangers for both emergency personnel and people traveling in the area."

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

The Bighorn Fire burning up the slopes on Saturday night.