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Apaches breathe easier with Kinishba doused

CANYON DAY, Ariz. - The Kinishba Fire incident that threatened the livelihood of the White Mountain Apache Tribe has been quickly snared.

The critical potential for the Kinishba Fire, near Whiteriver on the Fort Apache Indian reservation, has dwindled due to aggressive firefighting tactics used to knock down the initial hazards, the arrival of monsoon weather and the various hazardous fuel treatments previously conducted within the area.

More than 24 miles of firelines were constructed to encircle Kinishba. Assuming fire management responsibilities of the fire was a Southwest Type I Incident Management Team. Another Type I Team from Alaska was on the incident's wings if an explosive fire outbreak occurred. A total of 679 fire resources were diverted from other ending incidents to help bring Kinishba under control. Due to the high percentage of containment, resources had been shifted to other new wildland fire starts or returning to their homebase.

However, at press time, fire personnel continue to conduct mop-up and burnout operations on the northern edges.

The lightning-ignited blaze consumed 22,600 acres and cost an estimated $4.4 million. Kinishba burned in a mixture of ponderosa pine, pinion-juniper, chaparral and grass.

The fire's threat to residential homes was alleviated and evacuees returned to their homes. A handful of homes had been vandalized, but perpetrators were arrested or turned themselves into tribal law enforcement.

The BIA in close conjunction with the White Mountain Apache Tribe conducted a presentation to Senator John Kyle of Arizona, regarding the numerous fuel treatments administered on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation since the early 1950s. The treatments were highly praised and acknowledged for a force behind the effective forest management of the White Mountain Apache lands.

A Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation (BAER) Team, also known as Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation (ESR), has been assessing the fire's damage days after the fire began on July 13.

The BAER team will develop a plan to address a wide variety of immediate dangers ranging from water run-off with oncoming monsoon weather to restoration of the burned lands. The team will take three weeks to develop the plan and later, it will be turned over to the tribe to continue.

The Kinishba Fire was named for the nearby Kinishba ruins, translated in Apache as "Brown House," an ancient Pueblo-style apartment house occupied between about A.D. 1250 and A.D. 1400. Archaeologists estimate 600 ground floors were within Kinishba during its primetime. The village was equivalent to four city blocks. The diverse ceramics and pottery found within the site persuaded a University of Arizona Archaeologist to excavate the area. Dr. Byron Cummings began restoring the ruin's southeastern rooms block during the summers of 1931 - 1939.

Today, the ruins still stand the test of time.

For more information on the Kinishba ruins, call (928) 338-5340.