OAKLAND, Calif. -? Within hours of being contacted by the state, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's FEMA authorized firefighting funds to help California fight the Eagle and Cerritos fires burning 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 for the Eagle Fire at 3:15 a.m. EDT. At that time, the 3,000-acre fire burning near the Dripping Springs community and the Woodchuck Campground along Highway 79 had destroyed two residences and an outbuilding and threatened more than 300 homes in the Sage community. The state made the request at 12:30 a.m. EDT.
Under Secretary Brown approved the request for federal fire management assistance for the Cerritos Fire at 4:10 a.m. EDT. At that time, the 5,000-acre fire burning near Temescal Canyon had destroyed one residence and an outbuilding and threatened more than 750 homes in the Gavilan Hills, Alberhill and Estelle Mountain areas. The state made the request at 3:00 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.