OAKLAND, Calif. – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) authorized, within hours of being contacted by the state, the use of federal funds to help California fight the uncontrolled Crown fire burning south of Palmdale in Los Angeles County. More than 900 personnel are assigned to fight this fire that is threatening 500 homes near the town of Acton.
Michael D. Brown, under secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response, approved the request for federal fire management assistance for the Crown fire at 2:34 a.m. EDT. The request, the fifth one approved for California during the past 7 days, was made by the state at 12:45 a.m. EDT.
The Foothill fire, which was declared 72 hours ago, is now being managed with the Crown fire as the Crown Complex fire. The 14,000-acre Crown Complex fire has destroyed two residences and damaged one other. Three outbuildings also have been damaged. There is a mandatory evacuation in progress for 600 people.
This authorization marks the eleventh time this year that FEMA firefighting funds have been made available for California. Fires previously designated for assistance include the Foothill Fire in Los Angeles County on July 18, the Melton fire in Riverside County on July 18, the Hollow fire in El Dorado County on July 14, the Pine fire in Los Angeles County on July 14, the Mataguay fire in San Diego County on July 14, the Lake View fire in Riverside County on July 14, Gaviota fire in Santa Barbara County on June 5, the Cerritos fire in Riverside County on May 4, the Eagle fire in Riverside County on May 4, and the Pleasure fire in Riverside County on April 20. In comparison, only four fire management assistance declarations had been made by this time of the fire season both in 2003 and 2002.
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.