Biden says the federal government will fund the New Mexico wildfire recovery

SANTA FAY, NM, June 11 (Reuters) – The U.S. federal government will fund New Mexico’s wildfire operation, President Joe Biden said amid outrage over the survivors of a fire started by federal officials from Santa Fe on Saturday.

“We have a responsibility to help the state recover,” Biden told select officials and emergency responders at an afternoon conference from the state capital, reviewing efforts to combat the state’s largest fire in recorded history.

“Today I announce that I will cover 100% of the federal government’s spending,” Biden said the previous day, although some funds needed congressional approval.

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Biden told Santa Fe that the perimeter of the burned area on the plane was “astonishing” and that “we will be here to respond and recover for you until it is taken away.”

“It looks like a moon scene,” he said.

Driven by drought and wind, the fire has destroyed hundreds of homes in the mountains northeast of Santa Fe since two recommended burns were out of control by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) in April. read more

Air Force One circled around the fire damage in New Mexico, allowing Biden to see the burning forest and smoke from the sky before he landed and congratulating the governor and other elected officials who called on the federal government for additional financial assistance.

Local officials told Pittsburgh that there was currently not enough evidence to predict the weather or help affected residents.

“Our citizens are tired and angry and fearful about the future they face,” said David Dye, secretary of the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

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‘It was man-made’

Tens of thousands of residents have been evicted from Indo-Hispano farming villages by more than twice the national poverty rate, promoting a weaker economy where residents cut firewood and grow hay.

“It was not a natural disaster, it was man-made by a government agency,” said Ella Arelano, whose family lost hundreds of acres of forest around the village of Holman. “It’s a mess, a big mess, and it will take generations to recover from it.”

More than 320,000 acres (129,500 hectares) of mountains have been eroded by the Hermits Peak Golf Canyon – an area the size of Los Angeles – giving communities the opportunity to prepare for landslides, ash flows and flooding in areas that have given them the same level of water absorption as wildlife. Asphalt.

So far, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has provided more than $ 3 million to more than 900 families. But the $ 40,000 FEMA pays for destroyed homes is sometimes not enough to cover the loss of burned farm equipment near homes, which can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars per home.

White House officials did not immediately respond to questions about whether Biden’s pledge of federal support would include only an emergency response or compensation for damages.

The fire, the second largest in state history in southwestern New Mexico, is further exacerbated, underscoring concerns that climate change is exacerbating the fire that is engulfing firefighters and ultimately threatening to destroy most U.S. southwestern forests.

Investigators found that USFS-controlled burns jumped out of bounds to launch the Hermits Peak Fire on April 6. On April 19 the USFS Golf Canyon fire was caused by a pile of burnt trees and branches. On April 22 the two fires merged.

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To prevent the spread of fire, land managers sometimes use controlled fires to cut down small trees, shrubs and other materials that can fuel wildfires. The U.S. Forest Service has called for a nationwide suspension of the practice while reviewing the practices. [nL2N2XC2KJ]

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Reported by Andrew Hay in Davos, New Mexico and Trevor Hannigat in Santa Fe; Written by Michael Martina; Editing Aurora Ellis

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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