KANSAS CITY, MO – Firefighters battling a large grassland fire Sunday in southwestern Kansas, may get help paying certain firefighting costs from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
FEMA Region VII Administrator Beth Freeman approved a request from the State of Kansas shortly before 5 p.m. CDT Sunday for a federal Fire Management Assistance Grant for the Haskell County Fire, burning in Stevens and Haskell counties in southwestern Kansas.
Mid-afternoon Sunday, residents of the city of Satanta, KS, population 1,100, were being asked to voluntarily evacuate the community because the fire was threatening about 250 homes, as well as schools, businesses, utilities and infrastructure in and around the city. The fire, which began about noon Sunday, had already burned about 1,000 acres and was zero-percent contained at the time of the federal request, shortly after 3 p.m. CDT.
The National Weather Service had issued Red Flag warnings for the area, indicating a higher-than-usual fire threat. Sunday, temperatures were in the low 90s, with low relative humidity and about 30-40 mph winds. Similar conditions are expected to continue into Monday.
While FEMA does not provide actual firefighting equipment or personnel, the agency does provide funding on a cost-share basis for certain costs incurred by firefighting entities bringing in resources to help keep the fire’s impacts from causing a major disaster.
The FEMA funding, provided through the President’s Disaster Relief Fund, pays 75 percent of the state’s eligible firefighting costs that exceed a baseline threshold under an approved grant for managing, mitigating and controlling designated fires. These grants do not provide assistance to individual home or business owners, or cover costs associated with infrastructure damage caused by the fire.
Eligible costs for reimbursement can include expenses for field camps; equipment use, repair and replacement; mobilization and demobilization activities; and tools, materials and supplies.
FEMA region VII covers the states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders and to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.