Friday, September 6, 2013

Fire costs local districts more than $1 million

Some 33 outside fire departments help with structure protection


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

An aerial photo of Greenhorn Gulch shows how homes and structures were protected when the Beaver Creek Fire spread through the area. Local fire protection districts spent more than $1 million in structure protection in Greenhorn Gulch and elsewhere. Photo by Willy Cook

    Two fire protection districts in the Wood River Valley spent more than $1 million to protect homes and other structures when the Beaver Creek Fire raged through portions of Blaine County in August.
    Many homes and structures were threatened, but only one home was lost to the fire. But it took the assistance of some 33 fire departments to help the districts to accomplish the task. However, that assistance doesn’t come for free.
    Bart Lassman, chief of Wood River Fire and Rescue, which provides services for the Wood River Fire Protection District in the south valley, estimated costs to the district at $454,000.
    Mike Elle, chief of the Ketchum Fire Department, which provides services for the Ketchum Rural Fire Protection District in the north valley, estimated costs to the district of $562,000.


Some of the costs incurred by the districts will likely be
reimbursable through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.


    The amount is not known at this time, but some of the costs incurred by the districts will likely be reimbursable through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA declared in August that some costs incurred by local governments for the Beaver Creek Fire are eligible for reimbursement through the agency’s Fire Management Assistance Grant Program, which is typically referred to as FMAG.
    An FMAG grant would pay 75 percent of eligible costs. Blaine County Disaster Services Coordinator Chuck Turner said last week that he expects that the state of Idaho will pay 15 percent of the costs, potentially leaving local agencies to pay only 10 percent.
    Eligible costs under the program include some costs associated with bringing in outside agencies to assist with fire suppression.
    Grant requests for FEMA are processed through the Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security. Turner previously described the EMAG program as a “long, drawn-out process.”


Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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