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FEMA will help with Powerhouse firefighting costs

June 03, 2013|By Christine Mai-Duc and Joseph Serna
  • Firefighters prepare to defend a structure while battling the Powerhouse fire near Lancaster.
Firefighters prepare to defend a structure while battling the Powerhouse… (Stuart Palley / EPA )

The federal government has pledged to reimburse up to 75% of the costs associated with fighting the Powerhouse fire in the Santa Clarita area, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced.

State officials requested FEMA’s help over the weekend when the fire, encouraged by 100-degree heat, single-digit humidity and strong winds, expanded to nearly 20,000 acres in a day. The cost of fighting the fire has already reached $2.7 million, officials said.

At the time of the request, the communities of Green Valley, Lake Elizabeth and Lake Hughes were threatened. Many of those residents spent Monday in a local evacuation center hoping for good news.

That came about 8 a.m. when fire officials announced that hand crews and bulldozers had made major gains on the fire line overnight. The blaze was 40% contained, they said.

"All right!" shouted some of the 50 or so residents gathered in the community center at Marie Kerr Park as they ate oatmeal and sipped coffee. 

"Our actions last night were very aggressive," said Keith Mora of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, who was at the center giving residents periodic updates. "Part of our strategy today obviously is to get you back to your homes." 

Mora warned, however, that downed power lines and hot spots needed to be dealt with before the area could be considered fully safe.

"I'm really optimistic about today," Mora said. "A few days in a shelter is horrible, I understand. Let's just give it a little more time."

Close to 2,200 firefighters were battling the fire, which has destroyed six homes, damaged nine others and burned nearly 30,000 acres.

The fire started shortly before 4 p.m. Thursday near a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power station in San Francisquito Canyon near Drinkwater Reservoir, officials said.

Officials estimate the fire will not be fully contained for another week.

Red Cross evacuation center was operating at Marie Kerr Park at 39700 30th Street West in Palmdale. For more information about evacuations, residents can call the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in Palmdale at (661) 272-2400.


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