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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted at 2:11 p.m., Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Fire department gets $141K in FEMA aid for '07 Waialua fire

Advertiser Staff

The Honolulu Fire Department has received $141,695.33 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for fire-fighting costs related to the August 2007 Waialua wildland fire, Fire Chief Kenneth Silva announced recently.

The funds were awarded as part of the FEMA Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) to the state of Hawai'i and represent a federal cost-share to offset HFD expenses for fighting the fire.

"I'm encouraged that the state of Hawai'i and FEMA responded favorably to help the Honolulu Fire Department and the City and County of Honolulu recover some of our suppression costs from this extraordinary fire," Silva said in a news release announcing the reimbursement.

"I want to personally thank the Director of the state Civil Defense, Major General Robert Lee, for his agency's work in helping to secure these funds. I want to commend the HFD support staff who worked diligently for months after the fire was out to ensure that the city would qualify for these funds," Silva said in the news release.

The Waialua wildland fire began Aug. 12, 2007, on the slope of an irrigation reservoir near the Poamoho Gulch. Strong winds and a large amount of dry fuel caused the fire to grow rapidly and consume more than 7,000 acres before it was extinguished on Aug. 21. Numerous city, state, and federal agencies, including military resources, assisted at this incident.

The fire threatened dozens of homes and caused evacuations, road closures, and power outages. Although no residential property was damaged, several farms and ranches suffered damage to equipment and crops. Several species of endangered plants in the Wai'anae Mountains were also harmed. The HFD Fire Investigator determined that the fire was intentionally set.

The FMAG program provides a 75 percent federal cost-share reimbursement to states for eligible costs. The grants are made available to state and local governments to minimize immediate adverse effects and manage and control wildland fires that threaten to cause major disasters. The assistance covers fire-related activities, including fire fighting and support services, evacuations, sheltering, traffic control, emergency operations centers, and temporary repairs caused by fire fighting activities.