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Alaska pursues federal wildfire reimbursement

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Posted: Friday, November 22, 2013 12:03 am | Updated: 12:19 pm, Fri Nov 22, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — The state of Alaska is turning to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for reimbursement for the cost of fighting a fire on federal land this summer. 

This summer, the Alaska Division of Forestry devoted almost $1 million to suppressing an 80-acre fire at Clear Air Force Station between Fairbanks and Denali National Park along the Parks Highway. 

In the case of other fires on federal land, the state can bill the federal Bureau of Land Management’s Alaska Fire Service for the cost.

That hasn’t worked with this fire because, unlike other federal agencies, the U.S. Air Force doesn’t have an agreement with the Alaska Fire Service, said Tom Kurth, chief of fire and aviation for the state Division of Forestry. 

The Division of Forestry is trying to work around this lack of an agreement by asking for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he said. 

The price tag of the Clear fire is about one-sixth the $6 million annual budget appropriated to the Division of Forestry for wildland fire fighting, Kurth said. The division often requests supplemental funding from the state when expenses exceed this budget.    

Contact staff writer Sam Friedman at 459-7545. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMcrime.

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