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Gov. Ducey signs bill to set up $100 million fund to fight Arizona wildfires

(Facebook Photo/Telegraph Fire Information)

PHOENIX – Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill Friday establishing a $100 million fund for wildfire emergency response as burn season tears across the state.

The Arizona Legislature passed the bill easily Thursday – the House vote was 56-2 and the Senate vote was 24-2 – after Ducey called lawmakers into a special session.

“It’s evident to me that we need to do more to address these wildfires and the disasters that follow,” Ducey said at the signing.

The measure includes $75 million for firefighting efforts to help affected municipalities, people and property owners recover and prepare for flooding and other fallout from large fires.

There is also $25 million to pay about 700 low-risk state inmates to work on fire prevention. They will be under the supervision of the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management.

Fires are burning in every direction of the state, the largest being the Telegraph Fire whipping through forestland near Globe.

The blaze surpassed 173,000 acres and was 70% contained, officials said Friday. It’s the sixth-largest wildfire in state history. Several communities remain under evacuation orders.

Dry and excessively hot weather has disrupted the attack on the fire.

The heat wave over the area – temperatures in the Valley have been at least 115 degrees most of the week – has grounded large aerial tankers; helicopters are having trouble finding places where they can pick up water to drop on the flames, John Truett with the state forestry department said this week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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