WASHINGTON (AP) — The family of a man who was killed when a wildfire scorched their home in central Arizona says the effort to protect their property from destruction could be one of the most difficult battles of their lives.
The Arizona Department of Agriculture has approved an easement to allow the Kelaloch Lodge to build a home on their property, about two miles east of Phoenix.
The family says the home will house three family members.
The permit will be granted in the spring.
“We’ve spent hundreds of hours over the past couple of months, over the last couple of years, getting our permit approved,” said Ken Kelalakos.
Kelalakoz was among those who fought against the construction of the home on his ranch in 2016.
The federal government said the ranch, located just east of Tucson, could have been used for a wildlife refuge or as an agricultural land.
It said the area’s history was “likely to affect the development of an adjacent property.”
“I don’t know if it’s going to save the ranch,” Kelalaks wife, Kristy, said.
“But we want to get it built.”
The Kelalaxons have owned the ranch since it was built in 1871 and have been the owners of it since.
The property is near the Arizona-Mexico border, which the federal government says is critical to ranchers and ranchers’ ability to keep their livestock safe.
The state of Arizona has a population of nearly 23,000.
The state Department of Transportation has spent the last several months clearing brush, bulldozing and clearing trees to allow for the construction.
Officials say they hope the easement will allow the construction to move forward without any disruption to the family.