Here’s good news for people who love recreation sites in the cool forests of Mount Graham near Safford: Many of the sites have so far escaped the ravages of the Frye Fire that has scorched more than 48,000 acres around the mountain.
The fire was 72 percent contained on Monday, July 10.
Sites including the Noon Creek, Ash Creek, Soldier Creek, Squirrel Camp and Riggs Flat Lake areas show no apparent damage in photos from the Coronado National Forest.
Forest spokeswoman Heidi Schewel emphasized, however, that those sites and the Swift Trail road leading to them are closed indefinitely to the pubic because of the fire.
“People were flooding our information line with questions about which sites might be damaged” in the Mount Graham area of the Pinaleño Mountains, Schewel said. “A team took photos to show people that a lot of those sites were not damaged.”
She said it isn’t possible to be certain that the sites wouldn’t be damaged later by changing fire conditions or new lightning-sparked fires.
Information wasn’t immediately available as to how many of the 13 recreation sites in the area — including campgrounds and picnic areas — might have sustained fire damage.
“The road remains closed indefinitely at this point and a team will be doing an assessment on the severity of the fire and potential damage to watersheds,” Schewel said.
“With rains moving in, there could be flooding, materials rolling down onto the roadway and a hazard of trees falling onto the road.
“They’re analyzing all of this now to identify hazards,” she said.
“Then they will generate a timeline for performing the necessary work and opening the highway.
“That could take some time. It could be days, weeks or months.”