Arizona officials reacted angrily to the Obama administration's decision not to declare a federal disaster for the Yarnell Hill Fire in which 19 firefighters were killed.
Gov. Jan Brewer led the way, releasing a statement criticizing President Barack Obama and his administration, followed by an interview on Phoenix television.
“The bottom line is that there are certain things that don’t get political,” Brewer said on KSAZ-TV. “They’re for the best of the community, the best for the state, the best for the country, and I would like to believe that he believes that also.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, known as FEMA, announced Friday it had denied the state's request for a federal disaster declaration for the fire, in which more than 200 houses and other buildings were destroyed.
FEMA administrator Craig Fugate said in his letter to the governor's office that the state has the resources to cope with the fire's aftermath. Federal aid would have helped in rebuilding, providing temporary housing and low-interest loans for small businesses. It also would have helped with protecting the scarred lands from erosion.
Brewer asked Obama for the disaster declaration in person when she met the president as he arrived in Phoenix last week for a speech on housing and mortgage reform.
Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin, R-Paulden, also was critical of federal officials. The Yarnell fire was in Tobin's district.
“If this little community doesn’t qualify - losing 20 percent of the community - then just be honest and tell rural America and any small community in the country that unless you burn more than 1,000 acres, unless you lose more than 20 percent, don’t bother,” Tobin said in an interview on KNXV-TV in Phoenix.
Brewer said she will review the state's options for a possible appeal of the decision.