Arizona Files Appeal Challenging Federal Aid Denial For Yarnell Hill Fire Victims

September 04, 2013

Some of Arizona’s most powerful politicians have filed an appeal challenging the federal government’s decision not to grant aid to victims of the Yarnell Hill wildfire.  The governor is sending a letter to President Obama asking for help.

Brewer Gov. Brewer was flanked by some members of the state's congressional delegation when she announced the state is filing an appeal to FEMA's denial of federal aid to Yarnell Hill wildfire. (Photo by Steve Shadley-KJZZ)

Gov. Jan Brewer said the state has new information about the people whose property was destroyed in June’s deadly wildfire. 

“The people up there are elderly, they are underinsured or they don’t have any insurance whatsoever, at all. They are desperate,” said Brewer.

She said 108 homes were destroyed, and the official report puts damage at $6 million, but FEMA said based on its funding formula that does not meet the requirements to receive assistance for individual property owners. 

Republican Congressman Paul Gosar joined the governor at the Capitol Wednesday. He said he believes providing aid to the victims is a responsibility of the federal government and not the state. 

“This area is a very resilient area and they don’t ask much. They ask the federal government to be equal in its application of the law,” Gosar said.

The fire started in the district of Democratic Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick.  She said the losses are so severe that state and local agencies cannot handle the problem. 

“That fire involved federal and state land, and so the federal government has got to be responsive.  I was in Yarnell the Monday after the incident, and homes were still smoldering, and I saw firsthand the devastation to those families over there. It’s really tough,” Kirkpatrick said.

Gov. Brewer said she is asking Obama to send federal assistance for flood prevention in the fire area. She also wants him to get the Small Business Administration to provide loans for economic recovery in the aftermath of the deadliest fire in state history. 

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