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Assayii Lake Fire forcing some to evacuate

Updated: 06/16/2014 10:10 PM | Created: 06/16/2014 9:40 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The president of the Navajo Nation has declared a state of emergency as an 11,000 acre wildfire threatens two nearby communities.

Evacuations have been underway since late this afternoon in Naschitti and Sheep Springs-- which are about 50 miles north of Gallup -- all because of a fire left unattended near Assayii Lake.

For the 300 people who live here, it means it's time to go.

For the 17 years Alfred Atsiddy has lived in his house, he's never been in the path of a wildfire. "Just last night, it came over the mountain," Atsiddy said. "The fire came over the mountain, so it started coming down. I never thought it would be like this over here in Naschitti."

All day, Alfred's kids, grandkids, and everyone in between has been helping him pack up to leave, for who knows how long.

Alfred's daughter Lucy says trailers are packed with the important stuff -- hunting gear, and religious artifacts, things that are deeply important to the family.

Carol Edison is working at an information center in Naschitti. She says the biggest thing threatened right now is tradition. For the folks here, the wilderness on fire above Naschitti is a playground, and a safe haven for livestock handed down through generations.

"It means a lot to them. I would say their livestock are almost like their children to them. Something that they grew up with, something that they want to pass on to their younger kids," Edison said.

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