OAKLAND, Calif. – Last night, after being contacted by the State of Hawaii, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) rapidly authorized the use of federal funds to help the state fight a major fire burning on the island of Hawaii.
Michael D. Brown, under secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response, declared the Kawaihae Road Fire under FEMA’s Fire Management Assistance Grant Program at 11:00 p.m. PDT, two hours after receiving a request for such a declaration from the state.
At the time of the declaration, the fire was threatening more than 100 homes in the subdivision of Uplands of Mauna Kea and had caused the mandatory evacuation of local residents. The fire, which started Sunday, Sept. 12, 2004, had burned in excess of 1,500 acres on the Big Island.
Federal fire management assistance is provided through the President's Disaster Relief Fund and made available by FEMA for fires that threaten to cause a major disaster. The agency may pay 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.