WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reported today that President Clinton has ordered federal emergency aid for Texas because of the extreme threat to populated areas posed by the recent outbreak of wildfires.
FEMA Director James Lee Witt said the President took the action this afternoon after FEMA reported that severe drought conditions have sparked more than 3,000 wildfires, which burned some 150,000 acres of land and threatened hundreds of homes over the past several weeks.
Witt said the President's emergency declaration authorizes FEMA, in coordination with other federal agencies, to make direct federal assistance available to pay 75 percent of the cost for emergency measures needed to save lives, protect property, and insure public health and safety throughout the state. The funding includes costs for the required mobilizing and advance staging of federal firefighting resources and those of other states participating in Emergency Management Assistance Compact agreements with Texas.
In addition to the emergency funding, the state's costs for fighting designated fires are being paid at 70 percent federal share under FEMA's fire suppression grant program. To date, this assistance has been authorized for the Pine Coast 98 fire in Edwards and Real counties; the Cibolo Creek fire in Presidio County; the Paradise fire in Jeff Davis County; and the Perry fire in Falls County.
Graham Nance, of FEMA's regional office in Denton, Texas, was named by Witt to coordinate federal relief efforts in the threatened areas.