Authorities shut down illegal party with over 5,000 attendees in Tonto National Forest
© U.S. Forest Service/Facebook

More than 5,000 people attended an illegal event in Tonto National Forest on Saturday amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, resulting in several vehicle accidents and one person being emergency evacuated.

The U.S. Forest Service in the Arizona national forest said that officers were patrolling Saturday night when “a surge of people” were discovered coming to attend the event. The service said that over 5,000 people showed up, which placed “the public, forest service personnel and first responders at risk.” 

The forest service said that visitors at the event were charged with driving under the influence, speeding and reckless vehicle operation, illegal use of fireworks and more. Authorities said that there were seven vehicle accidents and multiple reports of stolen off-highway vehicles by the end of the night.

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“Campers and partiers restricted access by taping off sections of the main road to designate their camping area and vehicles were parked all along the main roads. Two quads colliding- one person was medevac’d out by helicopter due to the restrictions caused by the partiers,” the forest service said in a Sunday statement on Facebook.

Numerous Forest Protection Officers were out patrolling Lower Sycamore Saturday night when a surge of people came to...

Posted by U.S. Forest Service-Tonto National Forest on Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Authorities did not immediately confirm whether attendees at the gathering were wearing face masks or taking other precautions against the spread of COVID-19. 

Officials with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said no arrests were made over the gathering, according to FOX10 in Phoenix.

The Tonto National Forest requires a permit for all gatherings of over 75 people.  

The forest service in the Sunday statement advised people to report illegal events in Tonto National Forest and “don’t be a part of the problem."

The forest is the seventh-largest forest in the United States, covering 2.9 million acres.