Leonard Gregg, a 29-year old Apache contract firefighter, was arrested Sunday, June 30th, and charged with intentionally starting a fire that, after merging with a smaller one, grew into the largest wildfire in Arizona history. This fire, named the Rodeo-Chediski fire, has burned approximately 469,320 acres of pine forest in Arizona's White Mountains, scorched more than 420 homes in the Show Low and nearby communities, and demolished pine forests that supported a timber industry employing hundreds of Apache tribe members. Although Gregg pleaded not guilty, court documents allege that he told an investigator that he started the fire to acquire work on a fire crew.
Since Gregg's arrest, many Apaches sense hatred and retribution from surrounding white communities and have heard rumors that they are not welcomed in white neighborhoods. Equally important, for many Apaches, the feelings of fear and anger have been exacerbated by a sense of judicial betrayal. Authorities are currently investigating Valinda Jo Elliott, a 31-year old white woman who became lost while hiking and is believed to have set the smaller blaze by lighting underbrush to gain the attention of a passing helicopter. Many Apaches are questioning why only one individual has been arrested when the Rodeo fire was clearly the result of fires set by two different people. For more information regarding this story, users may access the first four links above. Interested users may access link five for information on Cibecue, Arizona and link six to view an online Apache Indian photo gallery.
(no comments available yet for this resource)