The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized the use of federal funds to help with firefighting costs for two wildfires burning in Washington.
The state’s request for a federal Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) related to the McEwan Fire in Mason County was approved by FEMA Region 10 Administrator Willie G. Nunn on July 4. He determined that the McEwan Fire threatened to cause such destruction as would constitute a major disaster. This is the second FMAG declared in 2023 to help fight wildfires in Washington.
At the time of the state’s request, the wildfire threatened homes in and around the community of Shelton. The fire also threatened highways, local ancillary roads, Mason County PUD infrastructure, Bonneville Power Administration transmission lines, Burlington-Santa Fe rail lines, communications towers, parks and hiking trails, and numerous businesses contributing to the manufacturing, mining, and agricultural industries.
FMAGs are provided through the President’s Disaster Relief Fund and are 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. This 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. These grants do not provide assistance to individual home or business owners and do not cover other infrastructure damage caused by the fire.
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Earlier this week, FEMA authorized the use of federal funds to help with firefighting costs for the Tunnel 5 Fire burning in Skamania County, about 50 miles northeast of Portland, Oregon. On July 2, Nunn determined that the Tunnel 5 Fire threatened to cause destruction that would constitute a major disaster. It was the first FMAG declared in 2023 to help fight Washington wildfires.
At the time of the state’s request, the wildfire threatened homes in and around the community of Underwood. The fire also threatened businesses, Skamania County Public Utility District infrastructure, Bonneville Power Administration transmission lines, fish hatcheries, and campgrounds and recreational facilities. Additionally, a Level 1 “Get Ready” evacuation warning was issued for the nearby city of White Salmon.
In addition to the firefighting funds authorized under the FMAG program, another $1,225,032 will be available to Washington through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) Post Fire for the mitigation of future wildfires and related hazards, such as flood after fire or erosion. Some eligible wildfire project types include defensible space measures, ignition-resistant construction, and hazardous fuels reduction. The Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018 authorizes FEMA to provide HMGP Post-Fire funds to eligible states and territories that receive Fire Management Assistance declarations and federally recognized tribes that have land burned within a designated area.