Obama signs disaster declaration for Yosemite-area Rim Fire

Dec. 13, 2013 at 11:55 PM   |   0 comments

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- President Obama Friday declared a major disaster exists in California and ordered federal resources to aid in the recovery from the Yosemite-area Rim Fire.

The disaster declaration makes federal funding available to state and eligible local governments and certain private non-profit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the Rim Fire in Tuolumne County, the White House said in a release.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator W. Craig Fugate named Stephen M. DeBlasio Sr. as the federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.

FEMA said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.

The fire -- the third-largest in California history -- broke out Aug. 17. It destroyed 11 homes and burned 402 square miles in Yosemite and Stanislaus national forests. It burned until Oct. 24, blanketed large swaths of Northern California and Northern Nevada with thick smoke and causing a months-long health hazard.

The top Tuolumne County prosecutor said earlier this month U.S. prosecutors have "privately declared an intention" to charge the hunter who started the fire when he evidently lost control of a campfire.

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