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Arizona deputy opens parking lot closed by shutdown

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- A Coconino County sheriff's deputy opened a Forest Service parking lot to traffic after a highway that runs through a scenic northern Arizona canyon popular with fans of fall foliage got jammed with traffic.

The Arizona Daily Sun reported that Highway 89A through Oak Creek Canyon was blocked in both directions Saturday when vehicles clogged a popular side canyon's entry.

The Forest Service had ordered the company that maintains the day-use area in the side canyon to close it last week because of the federal government shutdown.

Sheriff's spokesman Gerry Blair said the deputy used his authority to ensure public safety to unlock the gate so that the highway would be cleared.

Blair said emergency vehicles' access otherwise would have been blocked.

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