Oakland, CA -- Within two hours of being contacted by the state, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's FEMA authorized firefighting funds to help California fight the Pass fire burning in the Reche Canyon area of Riverside County.
Michael D. Brown, under secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response, approved the request for federal fire management assistance on October 21 at 11:41 p.m. EDT. At that time, the 1,000-acre fire had destroyed six homes and posed an immediate threat to 100 more homes and six businesses; 350 people were evacuated from the area. The state made the request at 10:00 p.m. EDT.
The authorization is the eighth granted to the state of California this year. FEMA firefighting assistance was previously authorized for four fires in Riverside County including the Bridge Fire on September 6, the Locust Fire on August 19, the Canyon fire on July 25 and the Railroad fire near Lake Elsinore on July 3. Firefighting assistance was also authorized for the Tejon fire on June 29 and the Sawmill fire on June 28, both in Kern County, 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.