Washington, DC -- Federal funds were made available today by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help New Mexico battle an outbreak of uncontrolled wildfires located in the counties of Socorro and Valencia.
FEMA Director James Lee Witt said the state's request for federal fire suppression aid was approved this afternoon immediately after it was reported that the Rio Grande Fire Complex, consisting of 18 fires, was endangering some 500 homes and other property in the communities of Belen, La Joya, Las Nutrias, Los Chavez, Los Lunas, Rio Communities, Tome, Turn, Valencia and Veguita. The fires, which started last Tuesday, had burned 5,000 acres of land at the time of the request.
Under the authorization, FEMA will pay 70 percent of the state's eligible firefighting costs that are above $95,097. The figure, called a floor cost, is derived through a formula based on the state's five-year annual average cost for fighting fires.
Federal fire suppression aid is provided through the President's Disaster Relief Fund and made available by FEMA to assist in fighting fires when they threaten to cause a major disaster.
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.