WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Congressman Ben Ray Luján announced a that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved a request for fire management assistance to assist with “mitigation, management, and control” of fires in Northern New Mexico. The El Cajete fire in Sandoval County has been burning since June 15th, and has scorched more than 600 acres of federal and private land. More than 625 people, including visitors and staff of the Valles Caldera National Preserve, had to be evacuated due to this fire.
“Funding for wildfire disasters is critical for the protection of human life and property as well as the management of our forests and wilderness areas,” Congressman Luján said. “We are grateful for this timely infusion of funds so our firefighters on the ground can begin to tame this terrible force of nature.”
“This essential funding will help protect people and homes and give our firefighters the resources they need to manage the El Cajete fire,” Udall said. “New Mexicans know the devastating toll that wildfires take, and I am grateful that FEMA recognized the urgency of this situation and prioritized these badly-needed resources.”
“I’m pleased we were able to secure this critical funding that was urgently needed to ensure that Sandoval County has the resources they need to protect families and communities in New Mexico,” said Senator Heinrich. “We all share a deep appreciation for the first responders and volunteers on the ground who put their lives on the line to keep New Mexicans safe. Residents in the area should continue to follow announcements from officials about the fire and evacuations. I will continue to work to ensure our communities have the support they need to respond and recover from El Cajete fire.”
Since it began a few days ago, the El Cajete fire has threatened buildings, businesses, equipment, infrastructure, and utilities in Sandoval County. In addition to the El Cajete fire, there are currently 11 other large fires burning uncontrolled within New Mexico.
Approval of the DHS Fire Management Assistance grant triggers assistance for several categories of aid including: costs for equipment and supplies; costs for emergency work (evacuations and sheltering, police barricading and traffic control, arson investigation); as well costs for field camps and meals.