BOTHELL, Wash. – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized the use of federal funds to help with firefighting costs for the McKinley Fire burning in Alaska’s Matanuska-Susitna Borough.
FEMA Region 10 Administrator Mike O’Hare determined that the fire threatened to cause such destruction as would constitute a major disaster. He approved the state of Alaska’s request for a federal Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) at 9:42 p.m. PDT on Monday.
The fire started August 17 and had burned in excess of 2,000 acres of private land and 50 structures at the time of the state’s request. The fire was “0 percent” contained and was threatening homes in and around the subdivisions of Hidden Hills, Caswell Lakes and Birch Harbor 18 miles north of the city of Willow. Level III evacuations were issued for residents near the affected communities. The American Red Cross has opened two shelters in the area.
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 fire, $454,432 in mitigation assistance will be available to Alaska. The Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018 authorizes FEMA to provide Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (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.