Arizona Wildfires

A tree burns during the Wallow fire in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest near Springerville, Ariz., Tuesday, June 7, 2011. Officials say the blaze has already burned 486 square miles and winds have been driving the flames 5 to 8 miles a day since the fire began a week ago. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Jae C. Hong

As the Wallow Fire devastates eastern Arizona, you're probably asking what many others are: What can I do to help? Much. But you also need to be wary of the potential this tragedy has to bring out con artists, and mindful of not hampering emergency efforts under way.

Last week, state Attorney General Tom Horne released a consumer protection guide and some helpful tips:

• Consider donating to nationally known and legitimate charities, like the Red Cross, rather than charities that you may not recognize.

• Don't be pressured. Give only when you are comfortable with the charity.

• Avoid cash donations and make checks payable to the organization, not to an individual.

The full consumer guide is available at: www.azag.gov/consumer/DISASTER_RECOVERY_CONSUMER_HANDOUT.pdf.

Emergency officials also urge you to stay away from the burning areas, and to instead donate money or supplies to agencies and charities currently helping out.

"We are always appreciative of our neighbors' generosity, but the fact is, it can become a great burden for those at the scene to break away from dealing with an emergency to handle unrequested donations or unaffiliated volunteers," Lou Trammell, director of the Arizona Division of Emergency Management, said in a news release.

To find out how you can donate to non-governmental agencies currently providing assistance to impacted Arizonans, visit www.AzEIN.gov or call Wallow Fire information at (702) 308-3238, (702) 308-3357 or (702) 308-8227.

• A Helping Hand is our weekly spotlight on a volunteer opportunity in the East Valley. Find other ways to help at www.volunteermatch.org.

 

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