Oakland, CA -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) authorized, within hours of being contacted by the state, the use of federal funds to help Arizona fight the uncontrolled wildfires burning in Pinal and Mohave counties.
FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh approved the state's request for federal fire management assistance for both fires on July 14 at 3:30 p.m., PST, after confirming that the fires threatened populated areas in the communities of Pine Lakes and Oracle. The Oracle Hill fire, located in Pinal County 30 miles north of Tucson, started on July 12. It has burned 2,200 acres and currently threatens 1,000 residences and several schools. There has been a mandatory evacuation of 200 residents. The Wild Cow fire in Mohave County, which started on July 13, came within one mile of the town of Pine Lakes and involves between 200 and 400 acres and between 150 and 400 structures. The town may be evacuated.
"FEMA is committed to assisting our nation's firefighters in getting them the resources they need to quickly extinguish these fires that threaten people's lives and property," Allbaugh said.
The authorization brings to six the number of Arizona fires that have been designated for FEMA assistance this year. Previous authorizations were made for the Chediski Farms fire in Navajo County on June 21, the Rodeo fire in Navajo County on June 19, the Indian fire in Yavapai County on May 15 and the Ryan fire in Santa Cruz County on April 30.
Federal fire management assistance is provided through the President's Disaster Relief Fund and made available by FEMA to assist in fighting fires that threaten to cause a major disaster. The assistance pays 75 percent of a state's eligible firefighting costs for managing, mitigating and controlling designated fire.
Eligible state firefighting costs covered by the aid can include expenses for field camps, equipment, repair and replacement tools, materials and supplies, and mobilization and demobilization activities.
FEMA is the federal agency that coordinates response efforts to federal disasters. The agency's 10 regional offices work directly with the states to help plan for disasters, develop mitigation programs and meet needs when disasters occur. FEMA Region IX serves the states of Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada, as well as the territories of American Samoa and Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia.