Oakland, CA -- Federal funds were made available by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today to help California fight the uncontrolled Sawmill fire burning in Kern County northeast of Bakersfield. The authorization is only the second granted to the state this year.
Under Secretary for the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and FEMA Director Michael D. Brown 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 homes west of Lake Isabella watershed, including homes in Hungry Gulch and Wolford Heights.
FEMA approved the state's request for federal fire management assistance on June 28 at 12:06 a.m. EDT, after confirming that the 450-acre spreading fire destroyed five structures, including two houses. The request was made by the state on June 27 at 9:10 p.m. EDT.
The Sawmill fire has threatened 650 homes, forcing the evacuation of about 250 people. The fire now has destroyed three residences and three other structures, and it threatens the communities of Kernville and Alta Sierra, potentially affecting 1,000 homes. Power outages have occurred.
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 firefighting assistance was previously authorized for the Pacific fire in Los Angeles County on January 7. During the first seven months of calendar year 2002, FEMA firefighting assistance was authorized to the state of California for 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.