The Aspen Fire burned from June 17, 2003 for about a month on Mount Lemmon, part of the Santa Catalina Mountains located in the Coronado National Forest north of Tucson, Arizona, and in the surrounding area. It burned 84,750 acres (132.4 sq mi) of land, and destroyed 340 homes and businesses of the town of Summerhaven.
Damages to electric lines, phone lines, water facilities, streets and sewers totaled $4.1 million. Firefighting cost was about $17 million, and the Forest Service has spent $2.7 million to prevent soil loss.
Wildfires can cause extensive damage, both to property and human life, but they also have various beneficial effects on wilderness areas. Some plant species depend on the effects of fire for growth and reproduction.
This terrible wildfire occurred before I moved to Tucson, so I had only heard of the disaster from neighbors who were living here at the time. Eleven years later, evidence of the fire is still visible on the trails. Also evident is Mother Nature’s persistence in reforestation.
Mount Lemmon is not far from my home; in fact it is where I have been hiking since the weather has turned beastly hot.
The top of the mountain is situated at 9,100 feet and my home at the base of the mountain is at 2,700 feet. Today the temperature on top was 73* F and it was 103* F at my home. Quite a difference!
I especially love hiking up on the mountain, the air is so much cooler, the loamy smell of the earth and the smell of the forest itself is glorious; the familiarity I have with the oaks and pine trees is undeniable. The terrain and forest are very similar to the area I come from. Hiking on the mountain is like going home for me. I thoroughly enjoy being able to hike up there.
It is not unusual to come across a patch of forest that has been burned, the charred trees remain, some are still standing.