As hundreds of thousands of Southern California residents are forced out of their homes by raging wildfires, East Valley residents are rushing in to help battle the blazes and try to make life a little easier in this time of crisis for our border state neighbors.
As reported Wednesday by Tribune reporter Mike Branom, Arizona has already contributed 44 engines and about 250 firefighters to the cause. Mike Farber, an Apache Junction fire battalion chief, exemplified the can-do attitude: “There are a lot of firefighters from different agencies to keep on the same page, while protecting people’s property,” he told Branom. “It’s an honor, actually, but it’s also a tremendous amount of responsibility.”
About 20 local Red Cross volunteers are helping on the scene near San Diego, providing hot meals and other support. Yuma County Red Cross has put out the welcome mat for displaced humans and horses, should more temporary housing be needed.
And the Arizona Cardinals are lending a hand to the San Diego Chargers by providing space for the NFL team to practice. As reported by the Associated Press, Qualcomm Stadium, the Chargers’ home field, is being used as an evacuation center. The NFL may ask Arizona State University to host the Chargers-Texans game at Sun Devil Stadium.
Gov. Janet Napolitano spoke for many Arizonans: “It is gut-wrenching to see homes and businesses disappear in flames. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families affected by this disaster.”
Austin Hill, a transplanted Californian now residing in Gilbert, wrote on today’s Opinion 2 page that “at times when trouble hits we unite. … as if for the first time, we begin to see one another as 'Americans.’”
We tip our cap to all Arizonans who are helping our neighbors in their time of need. Their selfless efforts are the embodiment of the Arizona spirit.