As fires continue to burn across Montana, so does the money that - ABC FOX Montana Local News, Weather, Sports KTMF | KWYB

As fires continue to burn across Montana, so does the money that goes into fighting them

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As fires continue to burn across Montana, so does the money that goes into fighting them. 

The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation reports today that Montana fire costs for both Federal and Statewide budgets have exceeded more than $300 million.

As of now two Fire Management Assistance Grants (FMAG) from FEMA have been granted to the state of Montana for wildfire suppression this wildfire season to help with those high costs.

One of the fires that received assistance was the Lodgepole Complex Fire that burned in the eastern Montana and the other one was for the Lolo Peak Fire that continues to burn today.

To receive a grant for Fire Management Assistance a governor must file a request to FEMA and then wait for FEMA to asses the request and fire damage. 

“They look at four different criteria,” said Stacie Greff, FEMA Spokesperson. “The first one is for property such as critical infrastructure and sensitive areas, they also look at state and local availability of firefighting resources. Then they look at high fire danger conditions and the potential major economic impact. That is how they make the decision whether one is granted or not."

In a press release today, Governor Bullock asked FEMA to expedite the review and approvals of additional fire management assistance grant requests.

As of now the FEMA’s spokesperson says there are no pending requests. If FEMA does approve the grant, the funding does not start instantly. 

 The FMAG is a FEMA reimbursement program after a grant is approved the wildfire management sends in all the receipts and paperwork for the wildfires. After FEMA assesses the damage after fire containment they provide up to 75 percent of firefighting costs. That they see fit to be eligible costs.

Greff says there are many things that would go for eligible costs some of those include: "equipment and supplies cost for an emergency work like a evacuations AND shelters, traffic control, air maintaining, cost for operations center and cost for personal safety like firefighter health safety." 

But where does the money that FEMA gives come from? 

"That is something called a disaster relief fund, which is a big pot of money granted to us from Congress,” said Greff. “There's been discussion right now given the fact that we have Harvey going on, we have wildfires in the west, we have another hurricane coming in. Is there enough money in at the end of the day? It all comes down to Congress and how the White House will look at that and assess what's needed." 

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