Washington, DC -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) authorized the use of federal funds to help New Mexico fight the outbreak of uncontrolled wildfires burning in the Ruidoso area in Lincoln County within four hours of being contacted by the state.
FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh said the state?s request for federal fire management assistance was approved after it was reported that the 2,500-acre Kokopelli Fire Complex, consisting of three fires, posed a threat to life and property in the city Ruidoso with a population of 7,700.
"Through close cooperation with the state of New Mexico we were able to provide this support to the fire services fighting this major fire outbreak and are proud of the outstanding work they are doing to contain these wildfires," Allbaugh said.
R. David Paulison, administrator of FEMA?s U.S. Fire Administration, noted at the time of the request 32 homes had been destroyed and at least 200 other dwellings were being threatened in Ruidoso and surrounding subdivisions. Five communities also were being evacuated as a result of the fires, which broke out last weekend.
"The authorization is the first granted for New Mexico this year," Paulison said. "FEMA is working with state officials to monitor extremely dry conditions in the state as the traditional wildfire season is beginning."
Under the authorization made Saturday night, FEMA will pay 75 percent of the state?s eligible firefighting costs under an approved grant for managing, mitigating and controlling designated fires.
Federal fire management assistance 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. FEMA recently streamlined the rules for the program to better support state and local firefighting efforts.
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.
All New Mexico homeowners should review their homes for fire safety. For more information, check with your local fire department, the New Mexico Office of Emergency Services and Security: www.dps.nm.org/emergency/em_index.htm website, or the FEMA website at: www.fema.gov.