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Sen. Mark Kelly asks President Biden for help with Arizona wildfire response

U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly received briefings Sunday, June 13, 2021, at the command centers for Arizona's Mescal and Telegraph fires. (Photo via Sen. Mark Kelly's office)

PHOENIX – After touring the command posts for Arizona’s Mescal and Telegraph fires Sunday, U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly wrote to the president and other federal officials seeking recovery assistance.

“Based on the information I’ve received, it is clear that summer monsoon rains could increase the risk of post-fire flood events on the reservation due to the loss of vegetation in the fire,” Kelly said Monday in a letter addressed to President Joe Biden and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell.

“The San Carlos Apache Tribe will need federal resources to recover and rebuild from these fires.”

Kelly also wrote to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland seeking the deployment of federal burn area emergency response teams and other help.

The Democrat was briefed Sunday by the incident commanders of the Mescal and Telegraph fires, which have consumed a combined 160,000 acres in eastern Pinal and southern Gila counties, including land on the San Carlos Apache Reservation.

He was joined in his tour by San Carlos Apache Nation Chairman Terry Rambler, Superior Mayor Mila Besich, Globe Vice Mayor Mike Stapleton, Miami Mayor Sammy Gonzalez and state Rep. David Cook, according to a press release.

Kelly also met with volunteers at an evacuation shelter run by the American Red Cross at High Desert Middle School in Globe.

On Wednesday, Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey issued an emergency declaration to free up funding for the response to the two wildfires.

A day later he said he would call a special session of the state Legislature to address concerns about the fires and their aftermath.

“The response will not end even when these fires are put out,” Ducey said Thursday.

“When this year’s monsoon rains come, these burned areas are prone to landslides, mudslides and flooding, which pose another threat to this community.”

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