BOTHELL, Wash. – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized the use of federal funds to help with firefighting costs for the Substation Fire burning in Sherman and Wasco counties, Oregon.
FEMA Region 10 Administrator Mike O’Hare determined that the fire threatened such destruction as would constitute a major disaster. He approved the state of Oregon’s request for a federal Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) at 3:35 p.m. PDT on Wednesday, July 18.
The fire started on Tuesday, and had burned in excess of 29,000 acres of federal and private land by the time of the approval. There were six other large fires burning uncontrolled within the State. At the time of the FMAG, the fire was five percent contained.
At the time of the request, the fire was threatening approximately 600 homes in and around the communities of Moro, Grass Valley, and The Dalles, with an estimated population of 16,000. Approximately 400 of the threatened homes are primary residences and 200 are secondary homes. The fire also threatened major transmission lines that supply power to Oregon and California, multiple substations, U.S. Route 97, the Deschutes River National Scenic Waterway and recreational areas. Evacuations were issued for approximately 200 people.
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.
In addition to reimbursement funding for fighting the Substation Fire, under the FMAG declaration the State of Oregon will be eligible for an additional $566,667 in assistance through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP). The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 authorized 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 declared area.
FEMA encourages HMGP Post-Fire funds be used for the mitigation of wildfire and related hazards, such as flood or erosion. However, HMGP is available for risk reduction of any hazard.