FEMA authorizes federal funds to help battle Georgia wildfire

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized federal funds to reimburse costs to Georgia to fight the Racepond Fire burning in Charlton County.

This authorization makes FEMA funding available to reimburse 75 percent of the eligible firefighting costs under an approved grant for managing, mitigating and controlling the fire. Eligible costs can include equipment and supplies (less insurance proceeds) and costs for emergency work such as evacuations and sheltering, police barricading and traffic control.

“FEMA approved this grant to make sure that Georgia has the financial support it needs to fight these fires and save lives, structures and property,” said FEMA Regional Administrator Phil May. “Meanwhile, our thoughts and prayers go out to families who’ve been affected.”

The state’s request was approved on June 15, 2011.

The fire started on May 25, and has burned in excess of 7,850 acres of state and private land. On June 14, 2011, the state of Georgia submitted a request for a fire management assistance grant declaration for the Racepond Fire. At the time of the request, the fire threatened 55 residences, with mandatory evacuations ordered for 150 residents. The fire is also threatening the county’s timber industry, as well as utility lines, the CSX railway, and four cell/microwave relay towers. The fire is 50 percent or less contained.

Federal fire management assistance is 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 state firefighting costs covered by the aid must first meet a minimum threshold for costs before assistance is provided.