Tuesday, July 15, 2003
Arizona Department of Public Safety Aircraft Hangar
Since the Kinishba fire broke out near White River on Sunday, I have been in close contact with relevant authorities to track the course of the fire, efforts to contain it, and most importantly, the safety of nearby communities.
This morning, I declared a state of emergency for Gila and Navajo counties. In that declaration, I assigned $200,000 from the General Fund to the Arizona Division of Emergency Management, to be used for fire-fighting expenses that the state incurs.
I also authorized the National Guard to assist local authorities as needed with road blocks and in areas that have been evacuated. This morning, 50 National Guard personnel have been reassigned from training exercises in Camp Navajo, near Flagstaff, to the armory at Show Low. They are scheduled to be there by this afternoon, and I plan to meet briefly with them.
In a few minutes I will be flying to White River, to meet with fire commanders, White Mountain Apache Tribe officials, and evacuees from White River.
I want to know the latest in fire fighting efforts, and I want the people in White River to know that they can count on whatever help the State of Arizona can give them.
I think I speak for all of Arizona when I say that our hearts are with the residents of White River, and we are pulling for the fire fighters who are working to contain this blaze.
We hope to have residents of White River back home soon and avoid any further evacuations, but our first priority is the safety of everyone concerned.
If the evacuation order does come to other communities, including Pinetop-Lakeside, I cannot emphasize enough the need for residents to comply with those evacuations. Staying in your homes inspite of evacuation orders puts not just your lives at risk, but those of law enforcement and fire fighters. Please - if you are asked to evacuate, do so. You will be in the best of hands.