With thousands of acres burning and dozens of homes lost from the Fourmile Canyon Fire, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter toured the site on Tuesday and declared a state of emergency. The fire burning northwest of Denver and Boulder continues to rage out of control as firefighters struggle to gain the upper hand.
Following a tour of the fire area with Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle, the governor offered a sober assessment of the situation. “This is an extremely volatile and dangerous fire. There will be many struggles ahead as we begin to assess property damage and losses,” he said. “My thoughts and prayers go out to all residents harmed by this devastating fire.”
Issuing the state of emergency activates the implementation of Colorado’s State Emergency Operations Plan. This frees up additional resources of manpower and money to help battle the blaze including $5,000,000 from the state’s Disaster Emergency Fund.
The action further clears the way for the state to seek federal funding to help pay for the costs of battling the blaze.
Yesterday the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced it would offer federal funding to help offset the cost of fighting the fire. The funds do not go to individual homeowners or businesses that face losses but they do pay 75% of the state’s eligible firefighting costs.
Federal authorities also took command of the firefighting efforts yesterday evening as they deployed a Type II Incident Command Team, the second highest level possible.
The complete text of the declaration is below. For complete coverage of the Fourmile Canyon Fire, please visit our main page or view the following links:
- Fourmile Canyon Fire Day 1 – Fourmile Canyon wildfire burns structures, forces evacuations west of Boulder
- Fourmile Canyon Fire Day 2 – Fourmile Canyon Fire continues to burn as firefighters try to gain upper hand
- In pictures – Fourmile Canyon Fire burns thousands of acres in Colorado mountains
- Video – Explosion of Fourmile Canyon Fire captured on video
- Video Stunning video captures nighttime burning of Boulder, Colorado wildfire
From the State of Colorado:
Declaring a Disaster Emergency Due to Fourmile Fire in Boulder County
Pursuant to the authority vested in the Governor of the State of Colorado and, in particular, pursuant to relevant portions of the Colorado Disaster Emergency Act of 1992, C.R.S. § 24-32-2100, et seq., I, Bill Ritter, Jr., Governor of the State of Colorado, hereby issue this Executive Order declaring a state of disaster emergency due to the wildfire in Boulder County, Colorado.
I. Background and Purpose
On Monday, September 6, 2010, a wildfire (“Fourmile Fire”) broke out in Fourmile Canyon, approximately 12 miles northwest of Boulder, Colorado. As of the morning of September 7th, the fire has forced the evacuation of approximately 1,000 homes and 3,500 residents. Multiple homes have been destroyed, and more than 500 structures are currently threatened. In addition, gusty winds and dry weather threaten to exacerbate the fire. Because of the fire’s proximity to state and federal lands, the city of Boulder, and residences in Fourmile Canyon, an aggressive response is essential. Approximately thirty agencies, including the Colorado State Forest Service, the U.S. Forest Service and local emergency teams, have responded to the wildfire by deploying a variety of resources, including one hundred firefighters, thirty-five engines, seven air tankers and three helicopters.
Additionally, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) has authorized the use of federal funds to help with firefighting costs. FEMA’s authorization makes federal funding available to reimburse seventy-five percent of the state’s eligible firefighting costs under an approved grant for responding to and controlling designated fires.
As Governor, I am responsible for meeting the dangers to the state and people presented by disasters. The Colorado Disaster Emergency Act of 1992, defines a disaster as “the occurrence or imminent threat of widespread or severe damages, injury or loss of life or property resulting from any natural cause or cause of human origin, including but not limited to . . . fire.” C.R.S. § 24-32-2103(1.5). The Fourmile Fire’s proximity to state and federal lands, the city of Boulder, and residences in Fourmile Canyon posed an imminent danger to life and property and, therefore, constituted a disaster for the purposes of the Act.
II. Declaration and Directives
A. I hereby declare that Fourmile Fire constitutes a disaster emergency for purposes of C.R.S. § 24-32-2103.
B. The State Emergency Operations Plan (“Plan”) is hereby activated. All State departments and agencies shall take whatever actions may be required and requested by the Director of the Division of Emergency Management or the Colorado State Forest Service, including provision of appropriate staff and equipment as necessary.
C. I order the encumbrance of $5,000,000 from the Disaster Emergency Fund to pay for the response effort related to this disaster. These funds shall be used to pay for resources to fight the Fourmile Fire. The Colorado State Forester is hereby authorized and directed to allocate the funding to the appropriate resources. These funds shall remain available for this purpose for one year from the date of this Executive Order.
D. The Director of the Colorado Division of Emergency Management and the Colorado State Forest Service are authorized and directed to coordinate application to the federal government for funds available for reimbursement and to coordinate application for any other funds available related to this disaster emergency.
This Executive Order shall expire thirty days from its date of signature unless extended further by Executive Order, except that the funds described in paragraph II(C) above shall remain available for the described purposes for one year from the date of this Executive Order.
Given under my hand and the Executive Seal of the State of Colorado this seventh day of September, 2010.
Bill Ritter, Jr.