Declaration helps state tap into federal emergency funds
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper Tuesday declared the High Park Fire a state disaster in a move that allocates $20 million to the state’s Disaster Emergency Fund to pay for firefighting efforts. Click here to read the declaration.
Fire incident commander Bill Hahnenberg Tuesday morning estimated the total cost of the fire so far at about $1.6 million, mounting at the rate of as much as $400,000 per day.
Hickenlooper gave verbal approval hours after the fire started on Saturday for the disaster declaration and authorized the use of Colorado National Guard resources to help fight the fire. Tuesday’s declaration formalizes both actions and authorizes state emergency managers to apply for federal disaster funds.
About 70 percent of the High Park Fire’s footprint is on non-federal lands, with 30 percent on national forest lands.
The $20 million to help pay for firefighting efforts will come from two sources: $12 million from the Major Medical Insurance Fund; and $8 million from the Perpetual Base Account of the Severance Tax Fund.
State law does not allow people who have lost homes or property in the fire to seek reimbursement from these funds.
The High Park Fire is approximately 15 miles west of Fort Collins and has burned an estimated 43,372 acres. The fire has claimed one life and more than 100 residences and other structures. Fire officials reported the fire as about 10 percent contained as of Tuesday evening.