The Latest: US government reverses decision on fire aid
Jul. 27, 2017
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — The Latest on federal firefighting aid (all times local):
Montana officials say the U.S. government has reversed its earlier decision to deny a request for aid to help pay for fighting the state's largest wildfire.
Gov. Steve Bullock's spokeswoman, Ronja Abel, says the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved the state's grant application Thursday in an email to Montana Disaster and Emergency Services.
The grant will allow Montana to recover 75 percent of its costs to fight the Lodgepole Complex of fires that has burned more than 400 square miles and destroyed 16 homes in eastern Montana.
FEMA rejected the state's original grant application on Sunday.
The state immediately appealed the decision. The governor and the three members of Montana's congressional delegation also appealed personally to the federal agency.
Montana officials continue to press the Federal Emergency Management Agency to get funds to help fight wildfires, despite an earlier rejection.
The Great Falls Tribune reported (http://gftrib.com/2vc0lYB ) Wednesday that FEMA actually rejected the state's request for a fire management grant the same day that Gov. Steve Bullock declared a fire state of emergency in Montana.
The grant would have let the state recover 75 percent of its costs to suppress the four fires that have burned almost 400 square miles (1,040 square kilometers) and destroyed at least 16 homes in eastern Montana.
The state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation filed a letter of appeal to FEMA.
A FEMA spokesman said Wednesday that the agency has 90 days to review the state appeal.