PHOENIX – As Arizona is afflicted with dozens of wildfires this summer, its governor shared stories of those who were displaced by the flames.
Gov. Doug Ducey, in his monthly sitdown interview with KTAR News’ Mac and Gaydos, explained the temporary living conditions of those evacuated from their homes in recent Arizona fires and even shared anecdotes.
“The people that were displaced, I was able to visit with them, they’re living in a gym, they’re living in a cafeteria,” Ducey said. “I had one of the guys tell me, ‘After I get out of this shelter, you’re going to need to get me to another shelter so I can lose a little weight because they’re feeding me so well here.'”
The governor said he was visiting the areas affected by the Goodwin Fire, which had spread to nearly 29,000 acres.
“Today, we have 55 active wildfires going on in the state,” Ducey said Monday. “Believe it or not, over the past 12 months, we’ve had over 800 fires in this state. More often than not, these guys get them out quickly and they save of course people and property and pets.”
Ducey answered in the affirmative when asked figuratively whether the wildfires “keep him up at night.”
“The wildfires are our natural disasters here in Arizona so yes,” he said. “Luckily, we haven’t lost any people. We have lost some property and structures.”
He was also asked whether he had any particular stories to share from his visit.
“There was about 70 in this gymnasium. They were staying there, they were in cots,” he said. “There was a grandmother and a grandfather whose grandson was in a wheelchair and he needed special sleeping accommodations. The community volunteers were able to bring a special bed in for this guy so that he could sleep.
“One of the other gentlemen there, he had sleep apnea. And when he was removed from his house, he wasn’t able to get his sleep machine that he needs. A community volunteer brought that in for him. And they were just bragging on the good food they were eating and what good care everyone was taking of them.”
Ducey explained that some of the evacuees were fortunate that the animal shelter housing their pets was just next-door to where they were staying.
“One guy, his horse, the fire was coming and he had to evacuate, the first responders take care of the people first — he wrote his cell phone number on his horse so when somebody found it they would call him and he could get his horse back.”
The governor emphasized the fact that Arizona was fortunate to not have suffered any human injury or death so far this year due to fires.
“We just recognized the four-year anniversary of the Yarnell 19. So when we lose people or firefighters, that’s a totally different thing. Of course, we want to save everyone’s property and homes. But it’s a different thing when you have everybody leaving and going back to a warm bed.”