FEMA Authorizes Firefighting Funds for Calif. Fires

August 13, 2004

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), immediately after being contacted by the state, has authorized the use of federal funds to help California fight the Oregon Fire burning near the town of Cherokee in Butte County and the Bear Fire burning in the Jones Valley area of Shasta County.

Michael Brown, under secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response, approved federal fire-management money earlier in the week, within two hours of receiving a request for assistance from the state.

At the time the firefighting funds were approved for the Oregon Fire, approximately 150 homes and 300 outbuildings were directly in the path of the rapidly moving flames. Located on the west side of Lake Oroville, the fire was also threatening Oregon City, Paradise, Pentz, and the Spring Valley.

Federal fire management assistance is provided through the President’s Disaster Relief Fund and made available by FEMA to assist in fighting fires that threaten to cause a major disaster. The assistance pays 75 percent of a state’s eligible firefighting and emergency response costs under an approved grant for managing, mitigating and controlling designated fires. Eligible state firefighting costs covered by the aid can include expenses for field camps; equipment use, repair and replacement; tools, materials and supplies; and mobilization and demobilization activities.

On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA’s continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.

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