Federal funds authorized to help fight Watermelon Hill Fire

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Release date: 
July 20, 2014
Release Number: 

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

FEMA Region X Regional Administrator, Kenneth D. Murphy determined that the Watermelon Hill 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 19, 2014 at 11:14 p.m. PDT.

On July 19, 2014, the State of Washington submitted a request for a fire management assistance declaration for the Watermelon Hill Fire, burning in the Counties of Lincoln and Spokane.  At the time of the request, 200 primary homes were threatened and approximately 300 people had evacuated the area.  At the time of the request the fire threatened;  a major BNSF/UP rail line, overhead power lines, Eastern Washington University, the Cheney Medical Center Community Hospital and the Turnville Wild life Preserve.  The fire started on July 19, 2014, and has burned approximately 5,000-7,000 acres of Federal, State, Bureau of Land Management, and private land.  Firefighting resources supporting this incident are from local, out of state and Federal who are providing fire suppression support with air resources, engines, and dozers on the fire line.  State firefighting resources have been exhausted, and out of state and international firefighting support is being requested. The Federal Principal Advisor confirmed the threat to homes, overhead power lines, and rail line.  The fire is at zero percent contained.  

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 20, 2014 - 13:05
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