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No aid from FEMA for Arizona wildfire that killed 19 firefighters

Aug. 10, 2013 at 1:32 PM

PHOENIX, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- The Arizona fire that killed 19 firefighters did not do enough damage to uninsured property to justify federal aid, officials say.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Friday that there will be no assistance for the Yarnell Hill fire, CNN reported. FEMA said the decision was based on rules that require a certain threshhold of uninsured property owners suffering losses.

The fire in June burned through 8,000 acres of woodland about 80 miles northwest of Phoenix and devastated two communities. The firefighters were killed when the blaze changed direction suddenly.

FEMA gave Arizona a grant to help fight the Yarnell fire while it was still burning. President Obama promised more aid in a condolence call to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, and Vice President Joe Biden spoke at a memorial for the firefighters in July.

Brewer and the state's two Republican senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, criticized FEMA's decision.

"We are disappointed that FEMA denied the governor's disaster declaration request for the Yarnell Hill Fire," the senators said in a joint statement. "It is a shame that FEMA couldn't find it within their mission to help rebuild their homes and lives."

FEMA says it is legally barred from duplicating payments for losses covered by private insurers or other agencies.

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