Brewer: More frequent fire updates on the way from feds - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

Brewer: More frequent fire updates on the way from feds

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Posted: Thursday, June 9, 2011 3:19 pm

Residents of fire-stricken northeast Arizona are going to get more frequent updates about what is going on, Gov. Jan Brewer said Thursday.

Brewer said the promise came after she spoke with President Barack Obama earlier in the day. She told Capitol Media Services that he told her the Wallow fire is the No. 1 priority in the nation and asked her what more he could do.

The governor said she shared concerns from area residents about what they see as a lack of communication.

“They don’t believe (they’re) getting enough up-to-date current information,’’ she said.

Brewer said she told the president that she understood there were two formal briefings each day. She also said that if there were more updates, “that would be greatly appreciated.’’

The request apparently paid off. The governor said she later got a text message that the federal agencies would do interim updates.

Brewer said she understands that there are conflicting demands being placed on all involved.

“You know, with the federal government, the United States Forest Service and with all the law enforcement, firefighters and everybody up here, their major concern, of course, is what?’’ She continued, answering her own question, “the safety and protection of life and then getting the fire put out.’’

But the governor said there are other worries.

“Of course, those people who have been evacuated are concerned about where their house is and has there been any damage and has it burned down,’’ she said. Brewer said that even brief updates throughout the day will help.

The governor said she decided to fly up to the fire site, her second trip since this past weekend, because Wednesday was “a particularly difficult night’’ in Greer, with several homes destroyed.

“I thought it would be good for me to come up and see with my eyes and assure the people that are being evacuated that we were paying attention, that we were concerned, and that I was going to do everything in my power to address the issues they were concerned about,’’ she said. Brewer also wanted to share with them what she had heard from the president Thursday morning as well as her conversation the night before with Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security chief, who also assured her that the federal government would provide whatever aid is needed.

In a separate briefing in Washington, Jay Carney, Obama’s press secretary, said Obama “expressed his concern for the citizens of Arizona who are dealing with multiple severe fires and to ensure that the governor has everything she needs.’’

Carney said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved both of the fire management assistance grants sought by the state. He also said the Forest Service has deployed more than 2,500 interagency firefighters.

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