Wallow Fire: Emergency Ops Center opens

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PHOENIX -- Arizona's Emergency Operations Center opened for business Tuesday morning to help coordinate evacuations, pre-evacuation orders and other information and actions related to the Wallow Fire burning in eastern Arizona.

Dozens of people from various agencies were briefed on the situation in eastern Arizona Tuesday morning. The idea is to make sure that everybody is on the same page so that the state will be better able to deal with issues that will come up as the recovery effort gets under way. One of those issues is the potential for extreme flooding that the Wallow Fire is creating.

"The landscape will be changed," explained Judy Kioski of the Division of Emergency Management. "When the monsoon storms hit, the water is going to react differently. Places that didn't flood last year could flood this year."

One goal will be to determine if there's anything that can be done now to mitigate the damage that could be in the future.

On Monday, Gov. Jan Brewer signed an emergency declaration that released $200,000 from the state emergency fund. That declaration allowed the Emergency Operations Center, which is located on the Papago Park Military Reservation at 56th Street and McDowell Road in Phoenix, to open Tuesday morning. It also paves the way for the National Guard to be mobilized should it become necessary.

Brewer said there is no current plan to bring in the National Guard right now, but the emergency declaration makes the option readily available.

While the federal government is covering the bulk of the costs for fighting the Wallow Fire, the money from the state emergency come will likely be applied to recovery efforts, said Matt Benson, a spokesman for the governor.