DENVER - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized the use of federal funds to help with firefighting costs for the West Fork Fire in Lincoln County Montana.
FEMA Acting Regional Administrator Nancy J. Dragani approved the state’s request for a federal Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) after receiving the state’s request Saturday evening.
At the time of the request, the fire was threatening 747 homes in and around Libby, Montana. The fire is also threatening buildings, businesses, transmission lines, cell towers, and three watersheds in the area.
The fire started on August 30, 2017, and has burned in excess of 8,700 acres of federal, state and private land. The fire is 0% contained.
Senator Jon Tester said on Sunday that two other major Montana wildfires have also been approved to receive FEMA’s disaster assistance.
FEMA will be releasing federal funds to help fight the 27,000 acres Alice Creek Fire and the Rice Ridge fire near Seeley Lake. Federal money had already been approved to help offset the costs of fighting the Lolo Peak fire.
As of Sunday, it had cost $41.4 million to fight the 50,000 acres Lolo Peak fire and $36 million to battle the 132,000 acre Rice Ridge Fire,
“With more than a million acres in Montana burned and little relief in sight, Washington must step up and do its part to ensure lives, homes, are property are protected,” Sen. Tester said a statement. “These resources will be a critical force on the front lines as firefighters and first responders work hard to beat back these blazes.”
The authorization makes FEMA funding available to pay 75% of the state’s eligible firefighting costs under an approved grant for managing, mitigating and controlling designated fires.
Eligible items can include expenses for field camps; equipment use, repair and replacement; mobilization and demobilization activities; and tools, materials and supplies.