WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reported today that President Clinton has ordered federal emergency aid for Florida 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 prolonged dry conditions have sparked more than 2,600 wildfires, which burned over 221,800 acres of land and endangered numerous homes within the past two weeks.
Witt said the President's emergency declaration authorizes FEMA to make federal funding available to the state and affected local governments to pay 75 percent of the cost for emergency measures needed to save lives, protect property, and insure public health and safety in 48 counties threatened by the fires starting April 15.
The eligible counties include Alachua, Baker, Bay, Bradford, Brevard, Broward, Calhoun, Charlotte, Collier, Columbia, Dade, Desoto, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Glades, Gulf, Hamilton, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Holmes, Indian River, Jackson, Jefferson, Lee, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Manatee, Marion, Monroe, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Lucie, Suwannee, Union, Wakulla, Walton and Washington.
In addition to today's emergency declaration, funding is currently being made available by FEMA to pay part of the state's costs for fighting 10 designated fires covering the 48 affected counties under the federal fire suppression assistance program.
Paul W. Fay, Jr., of FEMA's regional office in Atlanta, was named by Witt to coordinate federal relief efforts in the threatened areas.