Oakland, CA -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency authorized the use of federal funds to help fight the uncontrolled Squirrel wildfire burning in Shasta County, Calif., at 1:17 a.m. EDT. The cause of the fire, which started burning about an hour and a half before the authorization, is still under investigation.
FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh approved the state's latest request for federal fire management assistance early this morning when it became clear that the blaze posed an immediate threat to the town of Whitmore, population 2,000, near Redding, Calif. One residence has been destroyed by the 625-acre fire, and forced a mandatory evacuation of 300 people from the area. About 500 homes, two schools, 10 businesses and 200 other structures are also threatened.
"FEMA is committed to assisting our nation's firefighters in getting them the resources they need to quickly extinguish this fire that threatens people's lives and property," Allbaugh said.
The authorization is the eighth granted to the state for this year. FEMA firefighting assistance was previously authorized for the Pines fire in San Diego County on July 30, the Deer fire in Kern County on July 22; the Louisiana fire in San Bernardino County on June 27; the Blue Cut fire in San Bernardino County on June 17; the Copper fire in Los Angeles County on June 6; the Antonio fire in Orange County on May 14; and the Gavilan fire in San Diego County on February 11.
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 under an approved grant for managing, mitigating and controlling designated fires.
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.
FEMA is the federal agency that coordinates response efforts to federally declared disasters. The agency's 10 regional offices work directly with states to plan for and respond to disasters, develop mitigation programs and meet public needs when disasters happen. 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.