Oakland, CA -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's FEMA authorized firefighting funds to help California fight the uncontrolled Locust fire burning in Riverside County within two hours of being contacted by the state.
Michael D. Brown, under secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response, approved the request for federal fire management assistance on August 19 at 7:48 p.m. EDT. At that time, the 1,500-acre fire posed an immediate threat to 100 homes and businesses near Redlands; 200 people were evacuated from San Timoteo Canyon. The state made the request at 6:20 p.m. EDT.
The authorization is the sixth granted to the state this year. FEMA firefighting assistance was previously authorized for the Canyon fire in Riverside County on July 25, the Railroad fire near Lake Elsinore on July 3, the Tejon fire in Kern County on June 29, the Sawmill fire in Kern County on June 28 and the Pacific fire in Los Angeles County on January 7.
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 and emergency response 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.
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages Citizen Corps, the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.