(EMAILWIRE.COM, December 21, 2007 )PASADENA, Calif. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and theGovernors Office of Emergency Services (OES) announced today that anestimated $41 million in public assistance funding will go to the CaliforniaDepartment of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) for eligible costsincurred to fight the recent Southern California wildfires.
FEMA will provide 75 percent ($30.9 million) in firefighting costs, with theremaining 25 percent ($10.3 million) coming from the State of California. CALFIRE, together with FEMA and OES project officers, is currently gathering costdocumentation to determine the exact reimbursement amount.
The grant will go to reimburse the state for regular employee overtime,equipment use, equipment rental, contract labor, aircraft use, materials, andsimilar costs incurred by other firefighting agencies that are part of theCalifornia Master Mutual Aid Agreement.
When the costs of battling 24 fires in seven counties overwhelms thestates resources, there are programs in place to provide the necessaryassistance, said Federal Coordinating Officer Michael Hall of FEMA. Statesshould not have the added burden of worrying where funding will come from whenfirefighters are battling to save lives and property.
Under FEMAs Public Assistance program, state and local governments, NativeAmerican tribes, and certain private non-profit organizations in thedisaster-designated counties may be eligible for assistance in the form ofreimbursement for certain costs incurred in the disaster.
The Public Assistance program funds essential government costs. The categoriesof expenses eligible for assistance can include debris removal; emergencyprotective measures, including overtime pay for emergency workers; repair ofroads and bridges; repair of water control facilities; repair of publicbuildings and equipment; repair of public utilities; and repair of recreationalfacilities such as parks.
The nearly $31 million in public assistance grants that FEMA will provide toCAL FIRE as reimbursements for their heroic efforts in protecting lives,property and the environment during the recent fires is welcome news, saidState Coordinating Officer Henry Renteria of OES. The money willsignificantly reduce the burden costs of responding have placed on CAL FIRE, theState of California and its taxpayers.
Wildfires driven by fierce Santa Ana winds, spread throughout seven southernCalifornia counties beginning October 21, 2007. These wildfires resulted in thedestruction of public and private property and the disruption of utilities andother essential services.
There were 24 named fire incidents, including the Canyon, Buckweed and Ranchfires in Los Angeles County, the huge Witch and Harris fires in San Diego County,the Santiago fire in Orange County, and the Grass Valley and Slide fire in SanBernardino County. Santa Barbara, Ventura and Riverside Counties were alsoaffected by the firestorms.
To date, 521,663 acres have been burned; 3,309 structures destroyed, including2,180 residences, and 281 structures have been damaged. Fire conditions wereextremely dangerous due to the Santa Ana Winds coupled with an ongoing droughtand low humidity levels. Because of the numerous fires, local resources weredepleted requiring implementation of the California Master Mutual Aid Agreement.
Eligible costs began October 21, and can continue until the incident period isclosed. The estimated eligible costs for this project are based on datasubmitted by CALFIRE. These costs may be revised when actual eligible costs arefully documented and provided to FEMA.
FEMA coordinates the federal governments role in preparing for, preventing,mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domesticdisasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.
The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) coordinates overallstate-agency response to major disasters in support of local government. OES isalso responsible for maintaining the State Emergency Plan and coordinatingCalifornia’s preparedness,mitigation and recovery efforts.
Federal Emergency Management Agency, Room 350 500 C Street, SW, Washington, DC20472 United States