SALEM, Ore. -- Late last night the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) authorized the use of federal funds to help Oregon fight the Foster Gulch Complex Fire, including the McClain Fire burning near Copperfield, and the Foster Gulch Fire burning near Richland.
Federal Emergency Management Agency Director R. David Paulison said the state's request for federal fire management assistance was approved after it was confirmed that the fires had threatened more than 80 homes in several small communities. The McClain Fire was threatening Idaho Power transmission lines west of the Snake River and the Foster Gulch Fire was threatening Richland at the time of the grant request on July 24.
"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 manages federal response and recovery efforts following national incidents. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.