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Updated May 28, 2014 - 8:48 pm

Archaeologists find treasures in Slide Fire

PHOENIX — An arrowhead that could date back thousands of years and a
potentially historic cabin are among the items found by a team working to
preserve significant sites from the Slide Fire in northern Arizona.

The three-member team of archaeologists from Arizona was on the front lines
with firefighters since the blaze began in Oak Creek Canyon on May 20.

Much of the canyon has been evacuated since the fire started near Slide Rock
State Park.

The fire has burned 32 square miles so far, but containment has reached 45
percent.

Coconino County officials announced Wednesday night that the evacuation order
for Oak Creek Canyon residents because of a wildfire in northern Arizona will be
lifted at 1 p.m. Thursday and electricity is expected to be restored to all
homes in the affected area by 4 p.m. Friday.

The team’s mission is to preserve archaeologically significant sites both known
and unknown.

“We’re kind of on the ground with the crews and sometimes in front of them,
trying to protect these places,” Coconino National Forest archaeologist Jeremy
Haines said. “We want to ensure that we’re not inadvertently causing damage
through the firefighting effort.”

It was during a search through a steep side canyon in an area known as East
Pocket south of Flagstaff that a firefighter encountered what archaeologists had
missed in the past — a 12-by-12-foot log cabin.

“We moved away the debris and sure enough there was enough of the corner of
the cabin to identify exactly what it was. And during the brush-away we
discovered what looks to be a fireplace,” Haines said.

Haines said the cabin is significant because it’s the first real evidence of
Euro-American settlements in that remote area. The team took a piece of the log
cabin and plans to send it to the University of Arizona so that it could be
dated.

Haines said he also found an arrowhead that appears to be from the Archaic
Period dating back thousands of years.

“You think about wildland fires and you think about mostly putting out the
fire because of the trees or the wildlife. And we’re another value that’s at
risk due to the fire,” he said.

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