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A look back at the Bighorn Fire in photos
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A look back at the Bighorn Fire in photos

The Bighorn Fire consumed much of the Santa Catalina mountain range after an innocuous lightning strike late on June 5, 2020. It became a daily spectacle – visible from the Tucson area – as it methodically marched from West to East, finally enveloping burned and unburned Ponderosa pines around Summerhaven. It backed into the foothills on all sides of the range, threatening grasslands, ranch land, Catalina State Park and hundreds of homes. It was indefensible and inaccessible as it burned the rugged Pusch Ridge Wilderness Area. So it became an air war, a choreographed ballet of jet air tankers and helicopters dropping hundreds of thousands of gallons of water and fire retardant to slow or redirect the fire's progress. When it finally stalled, the fire had burned 119,978 acres. It was declared 100-percent contained on July 23.

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For Star subscribers: The Bighorn Fire temporarily displaced the bighorn sheep herd in the Catalina Mountains, but wildlife officials found no evidence that any of the animals were caught up and killed by the flames. Drought probably impacted the herd more, reducing the survival rate of lambs.

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