When a major wildfire burns into an urban area, federal disaster officials are quick to offer financial help to people who lose their homes. But not everyone is eligible for aid after a wildfire.
In fact, if you don’t have a home address, there’s a good chance you can’t even get into a shelter.
It turns out the Federal Emergency Management Administration doesn’t provide disaster aid to people who were homeless prior to a disaster.
“Unless people are made homeless by a declared disaster, assistance for pre-disaster homelessness does not fall within the rules, policies, and guidance for eligibility to receive Stafford Act assistance,” a FEMA spokesperson wrote in an email to JPR.
The Stafford Act is a federal law outlining how federal natural disaster aid can be spent.
Jefferson Public Radio
Two trends are converging in large wildland states like Montana — more frequent and severe wildfires and rapid home development in wildfire prone areas. A conference this week examined how homes burn and how to protect them.
Kelly Pohl is with Headwaters Economics, a non-profit research organization based in Bozeman. The group hosted the Building for Wildfire Summit in Big Sky this week along with the Big Sky Fire Department.
"We know that wildfires are becoming more intense, larger and lasting longer in our state, and the data backed this up. Wildfires have gotten bigger since the 1970s. The average acres burned per year is now about triple what it was a few decades ago," Pohl says.
According to the U.S. Forest Service, the wildfire season is also about three months longer due to a warming climate.
Montana Public Radio
Firefighters and other emergency workers, along with residents and visitors to the county, have been enjoying a fire free season in Summit so far this year.
It wasn’t too long ago that crews were lined up along firebreaks just outside Silverthorne to combat the Buffalo Mountain Fire, hoping to stop the blaze before it burned its way through the Mesa Cortina and Wildernest neighborhoods. A year earlier in 2017, helicopters were flying over Breckenridge and dumping buckets of water to halt the advance of the Peak 2 Fire as it made its way up the mountain.
Thousands of structures were threatened, and relatively widespread evacuations were ordered in Silverthorne and Breckenridge as a result of the fires. But more than a year since the last flames were doused, officials still aren’t sure how exactly the fires started, or by who.
Vail Daily News
Research being conducted in Monterey could unlock secrets about the effects massive wildfires have on everything from climate to high altitude pollution.
Dave Peterson, a meteorologist and atmospheric scientist with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, just returned to Monterey from a major endeavor involving hundreds of scientists and computer modeling experts where he led a team of fire and weather forecasters.
The research venture, called the NASA/NOAA Field Campaign FIREX-AQ, studied a phenomenon that occurs in several wildfires that can affect everything from firefighting efforts to climate conditions.
Firefighters involved in the 2013 Rim Fire near Yosemite and the 2018 Carr Fire outside of Redding have described the blazes as having created their own weather. Thunderstorms to be exact. When the conditions are right, such as the level of heat present and the amount of moisture in the air, these fires produce what Peterson calls massive pyrocumulonimbus clouds or pyroCbs.
Monterey County Herald
This week dozens of Kansas Air and Army National Guardsmen and woman go through training.
Fifty-three ground, 12 air and six water tender guards, have their hands tied this week, preparing themselves for fighting wildland fires.
“This came about after the 2016-2017 major wildland fires that we had, the Anderson Creek fire and also the Starbuck wildfire,” said LTC Larry Leupold, director of military support for the Kansas National Guard.
The Kansas National Guard wants to better assist local agencies when major wildland fires break out.
“Anytime we have a big fire, our local fire departments have limited resources,” said Leupold. “So, anytime the National Guard and our interagency partners can bring additional resources, it really helps get after the fire and get it under control quickly.”
KSNW-TV NBC 3 Wichita