FEMA provides federal funds to help fight South Ward Gap Fire - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

FEMA provides federal funds to help fight South Ward Gap Fire

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SEATTLE, WA - The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized the use of federal funds to help with firefighting costs for the South Ward Gap Fire burning in Benton County, Washington.

FEMA Region X Regional Administrator Kenneth D. Murphy determined that the fire threatened such destruction as would constitute a major disaster. Murphy approved the state of Washington’s request for a federal Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) at 12:19 a.m. PDT on August 1, 2016.

At the time of the request, the fire was threatening 275 primary homes in and around the community of Prosser, and neighboring areas, with a total population of approximately 6,000. The fire was also threatening agriculture and irrigation facilities, Yakama Nation cultural resources, tourism, Yakima River Watershed and associated species and community infrastructure in the area. Mandatory and voluntary evacuations were issued for approximately 1,300 people. There is currently one shelter open. The fire started on July 31, 2016, and has burned in excess of 1,000 acres of state and private lands. At the time of the authorization, there were six other large fires burning uncontrolled within the state. The Principal Advisor confirmed the threat, which was zero percent contained at the time of FMAG approval.

The authorization makes FEMA funding available to pay 75 percent of the state of Washington’s eligible firefighting costs for managing, mitigating and controlling designated fires. These grants provide reimbursement for firefighting and life-saving efforts. They do not provide assistance to individuals, homeowners or business owners and do not cover other infrastructure damage caused by the fire.

FMAGs 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.