(Left to right) Colorado Governor Bill Owens, FEMA Director Joe Allbaugh and FEMA Region VIII Director Dave Maurstad in Glenwood Springs during a tour of wildfires in Colorado.
Since the beginning of this year, Colorado has received 11 fire management assistance grants from FEMA - more than the total number of grants received by the state from 1994 to 2001, a period during which eight fires were declared.
"Controlling these fires is of paramount importance to the Nation, and President Bush sent me here to make sure the state is receiving all the assistance it needs from the federal government," Allbaugh said today. "We want to let the professionals go about the business of fighting these fires without having to worry how it will be paid for."
Federal fire management assistance is made available by FEMA to manage, mitigate and control fires that threaten to cause a major disaster. The assistance covers 75 percent of eligible state and local firefighting costs, including expenses for field camps; equipment use, repair and replacement; tools, materials and supplies; and mobilization and demobilization activities.
The program was expanded this year to cover even more firefighting costs, such as sheltering, evacuations, traffic control and arson investigation.
While the total dollar amount of FEMA assistance will not be known until the state submits cost documentation, federal funding will likely run into the millions of dollars. During the 2000 wildfire season in Colorado, FEMA provided more than $6 million to the state for the Bobcat Gulch, Hi Meadow and Eldorado fires.
"From our years in Texas, the President and I both understand the dangers of wildfire," Allbaugh said. "Early intervention can make all the difference, and we will continue working with local communities and the state to aggressively support their firefighting efforts.
"Governor Owens deserves tremendous credit for his strong leadership and tireless efforts on behalf of Coloradoans. The firefighters have done a remarkable job in the most difficult circumstances imaginable. And the work of FEMA's federal partners at the U.S. Forest Service, BLM, and other Interior agencies has been top-notch."
FEMA fire management assistance has been authorized in Colorado this year for the Snaking fire on April 23; the Cuerna Verde fire on May 1; the Black Mountain fire on May 5; the Schoonover fire on May 23; the Iron Mountain fire on June 2; the Trinidad Complex fire on June 3 (comprised of the James John and Fisher fires); the Ute Pass fire on June 7; the Coal Seam fire on June 8; the Hayman fire on June 9; and the Dierich fire on June 10.