OAKLAND, Calif. -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), after being contacted by the state, rapidly authorized the use of federal funds to help California fight the Geysers Fire raging in Lake and Sonoma Counties.
Michael D. Brown, under secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response, approved federal fire-management money tonight, at 6:22 p.m. PDT, approximately two hours after receiving a request for assistance from the state.
Located east of Geyserville, the Geysers Fire had burned approximately 14,000 acres at the time the firefighting funds were approved. It was threatening 100 homes in the Alexander Valley and in the community of Pine Flat. Fanned by the “red flag” conditions of strong winds combined with hot-and-dry weather, the fire caused the evacuation of local residents. It was also endangering two co-generation facilities for geothermal heat as well as power lines that serve the north Bay Area.
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 the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.