Washington, DC -- Federal funds have been made available by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help fight three uncontrolled multiple wildfires posing a threat to populated areas in Florida.
The state's requests for federal fire suppression aid were approved over the past weekend after it was reported that Lakeland, Caloosahatchee and Okeechobee fire complexes were endangering 900 homes and had forced the evacuation of more than 1,000 people in a 12-county area.
At the time of the requests, the Lakeland Complex consisting of 24 fires had burned more than 11,000 acres of land in the counties of Hillsborough, Pinellas and Polk, while the Caloosahatchee Complex containing four fires had scorched more than 450 acres in the counties of Collier, Hendry and Lee. The Okeechobee Complex comprising 20 fires had consumed another 5,000 acres in the counties of Glades, Highlands, Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee and St. Lucie.
Under the authorization, FEMA will pay 70 percent of the state's eligible firefighting costs that are above $1,520,356. 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.