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 Cedar and Paradise fires burning in San Diego County.
Michael D. Brown, under secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response, approved the request for federal fire management assistance for the Cedar fire threatening Ramona, Calif., and the Barona Indian Reservation at 8:27 a.m. EDT. At that time, the 6,000-acre fire had destroyed six homes and posed an immediate threat to 300 more homes and 50 businesses; more than 700 people were evacuated from the area. The state made the request at 6:49 a.m. EDT.
Under Secretary Brown approved the request for federal fire management assistance for the Paradise fire threatening Valley Center, Calif., at 10:49 a.m. EDT. At that time, the 1,300-acre fire had destroyed up to 40 homes and caused one death. The fire posed an immediate threat to 250 more homes and 150 businesses; more than 200 people were evacuated from the area. The state made the request at 9:05 a.m. EDT.
The authorizations are the sixth and seventh granted to the state of California in the past week, including the Simi fire earlier today, the Old fire in San Bernardino County and the Verdale fire in Los Angeles and Ventura counties on October 25, the Grand Prix fire in San Bernardino County on October 23 and the Pass fire in Riverside County on October 21. FEMA firefighting assistance was also authorized for seven other fires in California this year, including the Bridge fire on September 6, the Locust fire on August 19, the Canyon fire on July 25, the Railroad fire on July 3, the Tejon fire on June 29, the Sawmill fire on June 28 and the Pacific fire 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.