Mayor Vern Halter has declared a local disaster emergency for the Matanuska-Susitna Borough due to multiple wildfires in the Willow and Caswell areas.

The declaration, which was also signed by Borough Manager John Moosey, says the wildfires are severely threatening life and property, disrupting transportation and tourism and interrupting electrical power and communication for prolonged periods.

It reads, in part:

Whereas, the severity and magnitude of the multiple wildfires in the Willow/Caswell area is beyond the timely and effective response capability of the local resources and has hampered ability to obtain and maintain situational awareness related to damages; and

Therefore, be it resolved that the Borough Mayor and Borough Manager of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough do declare a Local Disaster Emergency per AS 26.23.140 to exist in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, effective August 20, 2019.

The declaration says the borough has expended its local resources and calls for Gov. Mike Dunleavy to declare a disaster emergency that will allow the borough to get state assistance and emergency resources for response efforts.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) authorized federal funding to help with firefighting costs in the Mat-Su for the McKinley Fire.

FEMA said regional administrator Mike O’Hare determined the fire could turn into a major disaster and cause destruction. The agency approved the state’s request for a fire management assistance grant that can be used to pay for field camps, costs associated with equipment and other firefighting activities.

In addition to the grant, FEMA says $454,432 is available to the state for fire mitigation.  

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