WASHINGTON , D.C. -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today authorized the use of federal funds to help California fight the Topanga fire burning near Chatsworh and Thousand Oaks , in Southern California .
R. David Paulison, Acting Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response, said the state's request for federal fire management assistance was approved after it was confirmed that the fire had threatened more than 1,500 homes in several suburban areas in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. The fire had consumed more than 2,000 acres at the time of the grant request on September 28, 2005. The aid was approved the same day. As of September 29, 2005, the fire was uncontained and had consumed more than 17,000 acres and several buildings. Hot, dry and windy conditions are contributing to the rapid spread of the fire.
"This declaration is the first step towards enabling the state and local governments to apply for financial help," said Paulison. "We are committed to getting our firefighters the funds they need to extinguish dangerous fires that threaten lives and property."
The authorization makes FEMA funding available to pay 75 percent of the state's eligible firefighting costs under an approved grant for managing, mitigating and controlling designated fires.
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. Eligible state firefighting costs covered by the aid must first meet a minimum threshold for costs before assistance is provided. Eligible 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.
FEMA prepares the nation for all hazards and manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.