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Wildfire Destroys 17 Homes in Ariz.

June 14, 1999

WHITERIVER, Ariz. (AP) _ Crews on Sunday expected to contain a large wildfire that destroyed 17 homes and forced 300 people to evacuate their homes on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation.

About 800 air and ground crews Sunday morning formed a containment line around the fire that began Friday and quickly spread to more than 4,000 acres, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Joe Spehar.

``Most of the crews are doing mop up,″ Spehar said. ``It’s looking real good. The weather is cooperating″

The wind-driven fire, north of Whiteriver and about 130 miles northeast of Phoenix, is believed to be human-caused and an investigation is pending, Spehar said.

The fire had burned nearly seven square miles of ponderosa pine trees and heavy brush, consuming a total of almost 4,500 acres before it stabilized. At one point, the flames stretched more than 400 feet into the air, Spehar said.

Although nobody was injured, the fire destroyed at least 17 homes and 13 additional outdoor structures, he said.

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