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Brian Head Fire Receives Emergency Federal Funds

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In response to the growing Brian Head wildfire in Southern Utah, a federal agency authorized an emergency grant to assist the firefighting effort.

Reaching 1,000 acres in size on Monday, the Brian Head fire threatens the rest of Iron County, Dixie National Forest and several BLM lands, according to an interagency government report.

“Wildfire has to reach a certain area and degree of threat, and it is really is based on whether the fire threatens to create a major disaster," said Jerry DeFelice with FEMA, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which authorized use of the Fire Management Assistance Grant to take on a bulk of the firefighting costs.

"The fire was threatening the actual center of the community and in addition to that, four watersheds were affected and we’re always interested in protecting critical infrastructure," he said. "So a decision was made real-time to do all that we can to support suppressing the fire so that a number of homes weren’t destroyed and then people would need additional assistance including, possibly, temporary housing."

FEMA does not fight fires directly. Instead, they reimburse local, state and federal agencies that must respond to the emergency, paying three-quarters of the cost in most cases.

"It is vital," DeFelice said. "When you make a determination that a fire is threatening to another disaster -- and an even bigger disaster -- it seems to make sense to lend whatever financial support to the firefighting effort so the people in command who are managing this incident don’t have to be unduly concerned about financial considerations. They know they have the financial resources to put the fire down."

The fire has put over a hundred homes and businesses at risk. One home has been destroyed and one home damaged. FEMA does not assist private homes or businesses.

“If people do have needs I suggest they get in touch with their local emergency manager or the American Red Cross," DeFelice said.