Gov. Ducey calling special legislative session to address Arizona wildfires
PHOENIX – Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said Thursday he is calling a special session of the state Legislature to address the ongoing wildfires east of the Phoenix area and their potential aftermath.
Ducey said during a press conference in Globe that the session will allow lawmakers “to make sure we have the resources and manpower needed to contain the wildfires, prepare for possible flooding, and any other natural disasters that arise from this emergency.”
The Republican announced the move after meeting with fire officials leading the response against the Telegraph and Mescal fires, which have torched more than 150,000 acres combined in Pinal and Gila counties.
Crews have been slowing the wildfires’ spread while containment has increased in recent days.
“The response will not end even when these fires are put out,” Ducey said. “When this year’s monsoon rains come, these burned areas are prone to landslides, mudslides and flooding, which pose another threat to this community.”
A day earlier, Ducey issued emergency declarations to make up to $400,000 available for the response to the Telegraph and Mescal fires.
Ducey said the special session was the idea of House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who lost a family cabin to the flames of the Telegraph Fire.
The governor said in a press release he would work out the details of the session with legislative leaders, local communities and state fire professionals, with an eye on convening next week.
It comes in the middle of a stalled battle to pass a state budget by the end of the month, as required under state law.
Ducey said the special session will allow the Legislature to focus in the emergency at hand, and Bowers expressed confidence that the budget would get done.
The Mescal Fire started June 1 about 12 miles southeast of Globe in Gila County. The cause remains under investigation. It had consumed 72,250 acres and was 36% contained as of Thursday morning, authorities said. At the afternoon press conference with Ducey, fire officials said containment was up to 60%.
The Telegraph Fire has been burning an area south and east of Superior across the Pinal and Gila County line since June 4 and has become the ninth-largest wildfire in state history. The exact origin hasn’t been determined, but it’s being investigated as a human-caused incident. It had burned 85,335 acres and five structures and was 40% contained, authorities said Thursday morning.