Washington, DC -- The state of Florida will receive federal funds to help fight a series of wildfires that currently comprise two fire complexes - the Withlacootchee Fire Complex burning in Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Lake and Sumter counties, and the Lakeland District Fire Complex burning in Pinellas, Polk and Hillsborough counties.
FEMA Director James Lee Witt said the state's request for federal fire suppression assistance for the Withlacootchee Fire Complex was approved Friday. The fire has burned 6,000 acres and, at the time of the request, three of the fires in the 35-fire complex were threatening 90 homes. Some of the fires were burning only five miles away from the Crystal River Nuclear Power Plant.
Witt said the request for the Lakeland Fire Complex was approved Saturday. The fire complex, which is composed of 30 fires, was threatening 200 homes and a Florida Power Corp. transmission system.
Under the authorization, FEMA will pay 70 percent of the state's eligible firefighting costs that are above $1,520,356. This amount, called a floor cost, is derived through a formula that is based on Florida'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 help fight fires when they threaten to cause a major disaster. Eligible state fire fighting costs covered by the aid can include expenses for field camps; equipment use, repair and replacement; tools, material and supplies; and mobilization and demobilization activities.