More than 600 Gila chubs, a minnow-like fish proposed for protection under the Endangered Species Act, were taken from the Sabino Creek and put aboard pickup trucks to be taken to the safety of a hatchery and research centers.
"We will just hold them in a safe location until things calm down," said Don Mitchell, a fisheries program manager with the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
Last month, a fire on Mount Lemmon destroyed more than 300 homes and businesses in several small communities including Summerhaven. The blaze was still burning Tuesday on the north side of the mountain and had charred some 40,500 acres.
The evacuation southwest of Mount Lemmon was undertaken to keep the fish from being killed when rain during the summer monsoon season washes debris down from the burned area.
"Our fear is if we get enough ash and soot and sediment into the canyon, we could lose them," Mitchell said. "There's a line of thought that these fish are genetically different than other Gila chubs in the area."
Sabino Canyon's Gila chub population is one of the largest among about two dozen stream populations scattered around Arizona.
The team left nine net traps sitting overnight in several small pools along Sabino Creek, most of which is dry at this time of year. The traps, baited with dog food, caught more than 400 of the chubs, ranging up to 10 inches long.
Volunteers carefully picked the gray fish out of the traps and tossed back unwanted creatures such as crawfish.
About 200 more chubs were found in three deeper pools amid the canyon's granite boulders. They were stunned with an electric-shock device and scooped up in nets.