Fire departments and assisting agencies that responded to the 2011 Bastrop County Complex Fire will get about $12 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The sum is over a third of FEMA’s $31.2 million awarded this week to fight wildfires in 17 counties that year.
The money is the federal government’s 75 percent share of the cost of fighting the fires, officials said.
Mike Fisher, emergency management coordinator for Bastrop County, said Bastrop’s County’s share of the appropriation is about $1.7 million. “And we’ve already allocated about $1.2 million of that to the local and volunteer fire departments and the cities of Bastrop, Smithville and Austin and the Bastrop and Smithville school districts,” he said.
He said fire departments will get the lion’s share of the money, about $1 million. The departments will use the money to replace fire hoses, tires, hand tools and other firefighting gear and make repairs to equipment. “Basically they can use the money for whatever they spent on fighting the fires,” he said.
Two people died in the Bastrop County Complex Fire, which destroyed 33,000 acres and 1,700 homes.
Cities had different expenses, he said. For example, the city of Bastrop was reimbursed for the use of its convention center that was the home of the fire command post. Firefighters went there for meals.
Among the other agencies that fought the Bastrop wildfires, applied for reimbursement and were approved, were the Texas Forest Service ($7.1 million), Texas Adjutant General’s Department (nearly $1 million) and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department ($1.3 million), according to FEMA.
“From here, FEMA awards the money to the Texas Division of Emergency Management that awards it to the applicants that were approved,” said Earl Armstrong, a spokesman for FEMA.