Perry requests federal aid for state wildfires

Perry requests federal aid for state wildfires

4 February 2008

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Texas, USA — Gov. Rick Perry requested a presidential disaster proclamation on Saturday due to continued wildfire danger in most of the state.

White Settlement firefighters stop on Hwy 377 near Benbrook, Texas, to battle a wildfire seconds before a speeding truck crashed into their fire engine Jan. 29. None of the firefighters were injured in the crash and one passenger in the speeding truck was transported to a local hospital. The firefighters were working to prevent the fire from jumping to the south side of Hwy 377. Dry conditions, high winds and low humidity helped to fuel the wildfire. Photo: Tom PenningtonAn estimated 70,000 acres and 60 structures have burned across Texas. Perry issued a state disaster proclamation Wednesday for 152 counties but increased the list to 184 on Saturday. High winds and low humidity have made the state vulnerable to large wildfires.

“Texas is thankful to the brave men and women from fire departments across the state who are battling these fires on the front lines,” Perry said. “As wildfires continue to rage across our state, Texas is reaching its capacity to respond to these emergencies and is in need of federal assistance.”

Perry asked President Bush for individual and households program benefits, disaster unemployment assistance, crisis counseling, financial assistance for state and local fire fighting resources, small business administration disaster loans and U.S. Department of Agriculture loans.

He also requested federal fire suppression units, debris removal assistance, emergency protective measures and repair of damage to public structures.

“Texas has and continues to experience a protracted period of intense and violent wildfires,” Perry said in his letter to Bush. “These have combined to present a serious hazard to the lives and property of the citizens of the state from the destructive potential of a wildland fire.”

Perry activated 12 Texas military forces helicopters to aid firefighters and requested five more helicopters from Louisiana. The Texas Forest Service set up an area command center in North Texas and asked for six more utility aircraft from the USDA Forest Service, according to a statement from Perry’s office.

The Salvation Army and the American Red Cross have also provided shelter and aid for those affected by the fires.

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