FORT COLLINS, CO–(ENEWSPF)–June 14, 2012. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today visited the Incident Command Post for the High Park Fire in Colorado, where he met firefighters and volunteers who are battling the fire, thanked them for their service, and emphasized that safety is the key priority as they work to contain the fire and protect human life and property.
Secretary Salazar attended a briefing with Incident Commander Bill Hahnenberg and Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith where he received an update on the efforts to contain the fires and the work by federal partners on the ground – the U.S. Forest Service, the Department of the Interior, the National Weather Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – to support state and local responders.
More than 150 Department of the Interior personnel are supporting the U.S. Forest Service in the coordinated, interagency response to the High Park fire. Overall, 1200 DOI personnel are among the more than 5,000 firefighters from the federal family who are working in partnership with local and state firefigters to battle fires in Colorado, New Mexico, and others states. The National Interagency Fire Center has been able to provide all requested resources to support the current fire activity and has resources available to respond to new wildfires that may occur.
A FEMA Incident Management Assistance Team, upon request of the State of Colorado, has also been deployed to provide support to the Colorado Division of Emergency Management, assisting with operational coordination. The IMAT consists of operations, planning, logistics, program, technology and emergency information staff who specialize in coordinating large-scale, multi-agency disaster responses.
To ensure states have the financial support they need, FEMA has approved Fire Management Assistance Grants to assist state and local firefighting efforts in Colorado and New Mexico. These grants help cover eligible costs, on a 75 percent cost share basis, and can reimburse state and local costs associated with personnel and equipment used to combat fires.
Yesterday, the President signed S. 3261, Contract Awards for Large Air Tankers. The bill supports our nation’s ability to fight wildfires by enabling the Forest Service to accelerate the contracting of the next generation of air tankers for wildfire suppression in future wildfire responses, bolstering resources they rely on today.