OAKLAND, Calif. -- Early this morning, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), authorized the use of federal funds to help California fight the Old Highway Fire near Mariposa in Mariposa County.
Michael D. Brown, under secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response, approved federal fire-management money at 2:40 a.m., a little more than one hour after receiving a request for assistance from the state.
At the time the firefighting funds were approved, the wildfire had consumed approximately 1,800 acres of dead oak and timber. It threatened 1,000 homes as well as schools, businesses, and a reservoir. Hundreds of local residents had evacuated from the Mariposa area.
The funding for the Old Highway Fire is the second FEMA firefighting grant in eight days to be provided to the state for Mariposa County. On September 2, the agency authorized a grant for the Bear Fire at Mormon Bar.
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.