ORACLE — The Pinal County Sheriff's Office issued an evacuation alert Thursday for areas around Oracle threatend by a growing wildfire in the Santa Catalina Mountains.
The "Go! — Evacuate" alert just after noon was issued for residents in the area of Peppersauce Canyon to Highjinks Road/Campo Bonito.
The joint message from the Pinal County Sheriff's Office and Pinal County Office of Emergency Management regarding the Bighorn Fire urged residents to evacuate immediately to a shelter or with family or friends outside of the affected area.
The Red Cross has set up an evacuation center at the Canyon del Oro High School in Oro Valley. Large animal sheltering will be done at the Pinal County Fairgrounds at Eleven Mile Corner.
Pima County Sheriff’s deputies went door to door evacuating more residents Thursday from the Santa Catalina Mountains overlooking Tucson as a wildfire, one of several in Arizona, continued to grow.
The Bighorn Fire’s evacuation area on Mount Lemmon was expanded to include Willow Canyon, the Pima County Sheriff's Department said.
It wasn’t immediately known how many homes were affected. Many residences on Mount Lemmon are summer cabins.
Fire officials said Thursday the fire had reached the north side of Mount Lemmon and also was to expected to push through a gap several miles to the north.
Crews were conducting burnouts to deprive the fire of fuel and improving containment lines in several areas to protect Mount Lemmon and the communities of Oracle and San Manuel in Pinal County.
The Bighorn Fire covered 48 square miles as of Thursday evening with containment remaining around 40% of its perimeter.
Two other major fires continued to grow in in the Kaibab National Forest north of the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona and in east-central Arizona in the Tonto National Forest northeast of metro Phoenix.
The fire 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of Fredonia was 86 square miles and 3% contained Thursday. The fire in the Tonto National Forest was 180 square miles and 5% contained.
All three fires have caused evacuation of rural communities and partial or full closures of several highways.
No structures have been reported damaged.