Fire Act approved by Senate, would boost wildfire response

The proactive wildfire response would be similar to the way FEMA arrives on the scene before a hurricane or tornado.

Alyssa Flores Image
Friday, October 21, 2022
Bill would deploy FEMA to areas of high fire risk in California
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The Fire Act, unanimously passed by the U.S. Senate, would allow FEMA to be deployed when a region is prone to disastrous wildfires.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- When it's hot, dry, windy, and there's an extreme fire risk in California, help could be on the way before destruction.

The Fire Act, which was unanimously passed by the U.S. Senate, would allow FEMA to be deployed when a region is prone to disastrous wildfires.

"Just as we do with other types of disasters, let's get resources and personnel in position to either try to minimize the scale of a disaster," said Sen. Alex Padilla. "But certainly to be able to respond more quickly."

The proactive wildfire response would be similar to the way FEMA arrives on the scene before a hurricane or tornado. Resources would be sent during times of high wildfire risk and red flag warnings.

Senator Padilla brought the bill forward, which he says would improve relocation assistance, ensure communities are rebuilt more quickly and provide tribal governments with help too.

Fresno County supervisor Nathan Magsig represents many local mountain and foothills communities that have seen fire destruction in recent years. He says this bill could be a game changer.

"You could have infrastructure, pipes that remelted. And so with this, it takes a look at, you know, what it is going to take to restore areas so infrastructure could go back in the ground," said Magsig. "So people can rebuild a home again because properties and areas have to be cleared environmentally."

Ron and Rose Cates were among the first to rebuild their home on Auberry Rd. after it burned in the Creek Fire.

"Having FEMA on the ground faster would definitely help," said Ron.

In the process, their claim for financial assistance was denied by FEMA. They didn't want to wait around for months for the agency to help them clear their property.

"Instead of waiting for FEMA to help us clean up, which would have taken another 2-3 months to come and get that done, we contracted privately and got the process going much quicker for our rebuild that way," said Ron.

The couple is now celebrating one year in their newly rebuilt home, but they had to dip into retirement money to make it happen.

"There are people still suffering out there that are still displaced that are still hurting," said Ron. "It's a multi-year effort for people to rebuild."