Washington, D.C. – Congressman Greg Gianforte and U.S. Senator Steve Daines today urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to declare Montana eligible for emergency funds.
Gianforte and Daines sent a letter to Brock Long, Administrator of FEMA, requesting reconsideration of Montana’s request for eligibility for fire management assistance. The Lodgepole Complex fires have already consumed more than 270,000 acres, and the devastating disaster threatens the livelihood of thousands of Montanans.
“We are writing today to urge you to reconsider the State of Montana’s request for a Federal Emergency Management Agency declaration of eligibility for fire management assistance on the Lodgepole Complex fires,” wrote Gianforte and Daines. “These fires continue to grow and already endanger thousands of Montanans.”
The letter is available to download here and below:
Dear Administrator Long:
We appreciate you speaking with us on short notice regarding wildfires in Montana. We are writing today to urge you to reconsider the State of Montana’s request for a Federal Emergency Management Agency declaration of eligibility for fire management assistance on the Lodgepole Complex fires. These fires continue to grow and already endanger thousands of Montanans. Across Montana’s drought-stricken eastern range, families are evacuating homes, business owners are watching their livelihoods go up in flames, and firefighters are putting their lives on the line to contain the blaze.
Active fires in Montana have already burned nearly 360,000 acres of land across our state. The historic drought conditions in the eastern part of Montana exasperates the impacts of these blazing hot fires on local communities and the area’s agricultural economy. In the east, the most impacted counties are Garfield, Petroleum, Custer, Powder River, Rosebud, and Phillips. Custer County contains one of eastern Montana’s largest cities, Miles City, a major driver of the eastern Montana economy.
Fire season typically ramps up in July and continues into late fall. According to the Bureau of Land Management, 124,202 acres burned in 2013, which led to the declaration of a state of emergency. This year fires have already burned almost three times that amount of land.
These fires will have devastating impacts on Montana for years to come. We understand that a variety of factors plays into the declaration of a major disaster. Although the Region VIII Administrator previously determined otherwise, the magnitude and the trauma of these fires make them a major disaster. The State of Montana needs help now.
We ask for you to make a declaration to support wildfire assistance as soon as you receive the appeal from Governor Bullock. We appreciate your attention to this matter.