Coronado closures announced, include Mt. LemmonPosted: Updated:
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Coronado National Forest leaders are taking extreme measures this week in response to the wildfires burning through Arizona.
Beginning Thursday at noon all two million acres of the Coronado will close.
Andrew Dennehy and his fiance Roni Love the Coronado national forest so much they planned on getting married in a couple of weeks at one of its campsites.
"We picked June before the monsoons and we thought it would be the perfect time, the temps just right," said Dennehy.
But at a news conference with forest officials Monday, the couple learned their timing couldn't have been worse.
"We will be looking at closing all national forests lands to human use effective Thursday, June 9 at noon," announced Forest Supervisor Jim Upchurch.
Upchurch says at this point three wildfires have spread across more than 200,000 acres in Southern Arizona.
More than 1500 firefighters are battling the human-caused flames with costs reaching $30 million.
"Our firefighters are seeing fire behaviors as extreme as they've ever seen," said Upchurch.
The closure applies to all visitor centers, campgrounds, picnic areas and summer cabins.
Mount Lemmon Highway will remain open during daylight hours, but drivers can only use it to access Summerhaven, no stops along the way. Violators will face a $5,000 or go to prison for up to six months.
Andrew and Roni say they understand, but feel they're being punished for other campers' reckless behavior.
"We have abided by every single rule that has been brought down on us ya know, from beautiful candles on the table, we're forgoing it with lit lanterns," said Love.
Summerhaven is now one possible relocation site for the couples' big day. They're just hoping another big wildfire doesn't come along and ruin it.
"Whatever happens, happens and we'll make the best of this and come up with another plan,"
Officials didn't say when they would re-open the forest, only that it wouldn't be until a significant amount of moisture is received to reduce the threat to manageable levels.