OAKLAND, Calif. -- 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 Pleasure fire burning near the communities of Lake Riverside Estates, Wilson Valley, Anza and the Cahuilla Indian Reservation in Riverside County, Calif.
Michael D. Brown, under secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response, approved the request for federal fire management assistance at 5:45 a.m. EDT. At that time, the 2,085-acre fire, sparked by a motorhome blaze, had destroyed two mobile homes and nine vehicles, six outbuildings and threatened about 650 homes in the area. There were 50 mandatory and 150 voluntary evacuations in the Lake Riverside Estates development. The state made the request at 3:58 a.m. EDT.
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.