Scientists Study Debris Flows After Arizona Fire, Federal Aid Denied

August 12, 2013

Scientists are studying the potential for debris flows in the area of the Yarnell Hill Fire that burned through rugged terrain last month south of Prescott.

Debris flows are composed of water, mud, and rocks that can sweep through recently burned areas and create hazards for residents, infrastructure and water resources.

The scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, the Arizona Geological Survey, and the Arizona Department of Emergency Management say the findings will help increase understanding of other flows following wildfires across the western U.S.

The lightning-sparked fire began June 28 and destroyed more than 100 homes before it was contained July 10. Nineteen firefighters were killed fighting the blaze.

The scientists say the study will help improve efforts to understand post-fire debris flows that can be used by emergency responders to better protect lives and property.

Last week Gov. Jan Brewer reported the federal government has denied Arizona’s request for a major disaster declaration for the wildfire in Yarnell.

Brewer had been waiting for a response from President Barack Obama to her request since mid-July.

Approval would have brought long-term federal recovery programs to Yavapai County to help survivors and businesses that didn’t have adequate insurance. It also would allow a federal team to do flood prevention work.

In a statement, Brewer says she is “deeply troubled by the Obama administration’s decision to deny much-needed recovery assistance in the wake of Arizona’s deadliest wildfire.”

Brewer pressed the president on her request Tuesday when Obama was in Phoenix.

She says Arizona “will review its options regarding an appeal.”

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