FEMA authorizes funds for Spring Fire

VALLEY — 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 Spring Fire in Costilla County.

FEMA Regional Administrator Lee K. dePalo approved the state’s request for a federal Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) after receiving the state’s request Thursday morning.

Costilla County commissioners declared a disaster just after 10 p.m. on Wednesday.

At the time of the request to FEMA on Thursday morning, the fire was threatening more than 380 homes west of Fort Garland. The fire is also threatening infrastructure, utilities, equipment, and a railroad in the area. A Red Flag Warning remains in effect for the area, and mandatory evacuations are taking place for approximately 600 people.  The fire, which started Wednesday afternoon, has burned thousands of acres of state and private land and is zero-percent contained.

The 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.

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.