Tucson Arizona Temple under evacuation watch as Bighorn Fire threatens

The Tucson Arizona Temple remains under evacuation precautions Friday, June 12, with the lightning-ignited Bighorn Fire raging in the nearby Santa Catalina Mountains.

“The Tucson Arizona Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was put under an evacuation watch on Wednesday evening,” said Church spokeswoman Irene Caso. “Currently the temple is not part on an evacuation order, but the situation is being closely monitored.”

Burning since June 5, the Bighorn Fire had consumed some 6,200 acres by late Thursday night and was estimated at only 10% contained. Some 200 homes were under evacuation orders Thursday by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, with another 850 under evacuation threat.

A hot shot fire crew fighting the Bighorn Fire hikes on ridge in the foothills as smoke from wildfires rise in the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson, Ariz., Thursday, June 11, 2020. (Rebecca Sasnett/Arizona Daily Star via AP)
A hot shot fire crew fighting the Bighorn Fire hikes on ridge in the foothills as smoke from wildfires rise in the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson, Ariz., Thursday, June 11, 2020. (Rebecca Sasnett/Arizona Daily Star via AP) Credit: AP

The Tucson temple, located at 7281 E. Skyline Drive, was given the “Set — be alert” caution under the local, three-phase “Ready, Set, Go” stages of evacuation. However, the Bighorn Fire appears to be headed east, away from the northern Tucson area that include the temple site.

The Church closed all of its temples in mid-March, suspending temple work and worship as an adjustment to the COVID-19 global pandemic. The Tucson Arizona Temple had reopened May 18 for living husband-and-wife sealing ordinances.

“The temple has been temporarily closed since March and at this time has minimal staffing,” Caso said. “We are grateful for those working diligently to protect homes and buildings in the area.”

The Tucson Arizona Temple was announced on Oct. 6, 2012, and dedicated on Aug. 13, 2017.