Jun 16, 2013 11:46 PM by Rebecca Taylor

Mt. Lemmon's Aspen Fire: 10 years later

TUCSON - Monday marks the 10 year anniversary of the Aspen Fire atop Mt. Lemmon.

The blaze destroyed nearly 340 homes and businesses in Summerhaven and charred more than 84-thousand acres.

It burned for nearly a month, forever changing the mountain retreat as we knew it.

News 4 Tucson's Rebecca Taylor covered the Aspen Fire 10 years ago, as she found out, the strength and resilience of the Summerhaven community is still evident a decade later.

Four generations of the Barber family have enjoyed Mt. Lemmon.

"We built a wonderful cabin, we remodeled it a little bit, it burnt down and now we rebuilt," Nancy Barber said.

Barber was in Los Angeles when the wildfire broke out June 17, 2003.

"So we were watching it on the internet and calling everyone, and actually found out that day that we had lost our cabin, from our dear friends on the corner, whose cabin did not burn," said Barber.

Flames and embers ping-ponged narrowly missing her neighbor's home. Since then, fire prevention measures and codes have improved.

"We have a tin roof now, where we had shingles before. Our patio is made of a wonderful material that won't burn," describes Barber, "we come up much more often to rake up the leaves and make sure all of the fire danger is out of the way."

Visitor David Babb says, "We just love the pines, we love the breeze and temperatures. Everybody's just having a good time."

It's David Babb's first visit to Mt. Lemmon. A new job brought him to Tucson.

At first glance, he didn't notice the burnt pines, evidence of the community's endurance.

"In this kind of setting, obviously it's cared about by a great lot of people or it wouldn't be here, and certainly wouldn't be in this condition," Babb said.

"It's really hard to believe it's been 10 years, but here we are," says Barber, "with my family, my grandchildren, spending a wonderful day on the mountain."

Despite new building codes and regulations, locals and tourists alike say the charm of Summerhaven, before the Aspen Fire still exists.


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