Governor Issues State Disaster Declaration for Areas Affected by Sockeye Fire
FEMA provides federal funds to help fight the Sockeye Fire
June 16, 2015
The Alaska Army National Guard supported fire suppression efforts in June 2015 in and near Willow, Alaska. UH-60 Black Hawks from the 1-207th Aviation Regiment flew multiple missions, dipping their orange water buckets into waters east of Willow Lake and dropping thousands of gallons of water over the east side of the fire, about five miles north of Willow Airport. Sergeant Sonny Cooper, a crew chief for the 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment, flew on a crew during firefighting efforts, and operated the water bucket during missions.
Two Alaska Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and aircrews from the 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment have helped fight the Sockeye Fire since Sunday, performing water bucket operations near Willow.
“I am proud of all the agencies, emergency personnel, and volunteers who have been working together and have done a great job in their initial response to the fire,” Governor Walker said. “The fire itself has been powerful, but the human response has been equally as powerful. There has been tremendous support from around the state. The disaster declaration will put the borough in a position to have access to necessary resources from around the state.”
Tuesday morning the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) authorized the use of federal funds to help with firefighting costs for the Sockeye Fire, burning in Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Alaska.
FEMA Region X Regional Administrator, Kenneth D. Murphy determined that the Sockeye Fire threatened such destruction as would constitute a major disaster. Murphy approved the state’s request for federal Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) on June 15, 2015 at 6:37 p.m. AKDT.
The fire started on June 14, 2015, and has burned approximately 6,500 acres of private and state land. At the time of the request, the fire had burned 25 homes and was threatening 893 primary homes in and around the town of Willow. Approximately 1700 people had evacuated the area. Sheltering operations have been ongoing and have had to relocate 3 times because of the dynamics of this fire. The Park Highway, local roads and bridges were closed and threatened.
Firefighting resources include a Type 1 Incident Management Team, 5 Hot Spot Crews, 10 Helicopters, 1 Air Tanker, 2 Engine Task Forces to support fire suppression activities. The Federal Principal Advisor confirmed the threat to homes. The fire is currently 0 percent contained. There are 24 other fires burning uncontrolled within the state.
The authorization makes FEMA funding available to pay 75 percent of the State of Alaska’s eligible firefighting costs under an approved grant 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.
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.
Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
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