Federal funds authorized to help fight Chiwakum Fire

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Release date: 
July 17, 2014
Release Number: 
14-5

Seattle, WA - The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized the use of federal funds to help with firefighting costs for the Chiwaukum Fire, burning in Chelan County, Washington.

FEMA Region X Regional Administrator, Kenneth D. Murphy determined that the Chiwaukum Fire threatened such destruction as would constitute a major disaster.  Murphy approved the state’s request for federal Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) on July 16, 2014 at 11:54 p.m. PDT.

On July 16, 2014, the State of Washington submitted a request for a fire management assistance declaration for the Chiwaukum Fire burning in Chelan County.  At the time of the request, 800 primary homes were threatened, but the number increased to 2,000 when the spreading fire began to threaten the Lake Wenatchee area.  Approximately 7,200 people have been evacuated, including campgrounds and recreational homes.  Two shelters have been opened, one by the County at Cascade High School, and another by the American Red Cross at the Baptist Church.  Both are operating around the clock at the time of the request.  Highway 2 is closed in directions, as well as local roads and bridges, and railroad lines within the threatened areas. The fire has damaged or threatened electrical distribution lines and substations, with the potential to shut off power to the area. Impacts to irrigation facilities, wildlife and cultural resources are a concern in and around the fire perimeter. The fire started on July 15, 2014, and currently at least 10 fires are burning uncontrolled and have consumed approximately 4,500 acres of Federal, State, and private land. Firefighting resources fighting the fire include: Type 2 Incident Management Team, mixed air platforms, helicopters (although limited because of visibility due to smoke in some areas), engines, water tenders and fire hand crews. The Federal Principal Advisor has confirmed the threat to homes. The fire is currently is uncontained.  

A state of emergency was declared by the Governor late Tuesday, July 14 in 20 Eastern Washington counties in response to multiple wildfires threatening homes, businesses, public infrastructure, and natural resources in many parts of the state as fire crews face continued severe fire weather conditions.

The authorization makes FEMA funding available to pay 75 percent of Washington State’s eligible firefighting costs under an approved grant for managing, mitigating and controlling designated fires. These grants provide reimbursement for firefighting and life-saving efforts. They do not provide assistance to individuals, homeowners or business owners and do not cover other infrastructure damage caused by the fire.

Fire Management Assistance Grants are 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 items can include expenses for field camps; equipment use, repair and replacement; mobilization and demobilization activities; and tools, materials and supplies.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders 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.

 

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Last Updated: 
July 18, 2014 - 09:40
State/Tribal Government or Region: 
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