The long, difficult task is beginning across the state to add up the costs from all the Kansas wildfires. "We have seven counties that have qualified, and we've gotten federal support in what we call fire management assistance grants," Major Gen. Lee Tafanelli, Kansas Adjutant General, said Monday. "And that's really there to help those first responders, those other fire departments who have come in to provide resources and support to help them recover, if there are any losses of equipment or any of their support stuff." Tafanelli said teams made up of local, state and federal officials are going into affected counties to assess fire damage, "to collect all of the data and information that's going to be necessary to be put together the documentation that we need for a major presidential declaration disaster that Governor Brownback will submit." Tafanelli doesn't think there'll be any problem for the state to reach the damage threshold to trigger federal assistance. That amount, he said, is $4.1 million.
He said the state should qualify for the Federal Public Assistance Program. That program assists local, county and state government entities with losses. The damage assessment teams will examine such things as roads, bridges and fire equipment.
The data collection process could take a month or more. It must be collected so Governor Sam Brownback can make an application for a Presidential Disaster Declaration.
Brownback signed a final disaster declaration Monday covering 20 counties, following wildfires that burned more than 1,000 square miles of the state. Brownback made an initial disaster declaration verbally on March 5, and the final document covers fires that started March 4.
One death and 11 injuries were attributed to the fires. The state said Monday that more than 40 homes and an unknown number of outbuildings were destroyed.
The state also said three bridges in Clark County and one in Meade County were destroyed. An unknown number of livestock died.
The counties listed in declaration: Barber, Cheyenne, Clark, Comanche, Ellis, Ellsworth, Ford, Harvey, Hodgeman, Lane, Lincoln, McPherson, Meade, Ness, Pratt, Reno, Rice, Rooks, Russell, & Seward.