Yarnell Hill Fire: FEMA denies Brewer's appeal for funding - 19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports

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Yarnell Hill Fire: FEMA denies Brewer's appeal for disaster funding

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YARNELL, AZ (CBS5) -

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has again denied Gov. Jan Brewer's request to declare the Yarnell Hill Fire a disaster.

FEMA spokesman John Hamill confirmed Friday that Brewer's appeal had been denied.

The Small Business Administration said it will now begin offering low interest loans to homeowners and businesses affected by the fire. The loans could not be offered while the appeal was pending.

In her appeal, the governor said the uninsured damage went up and that FEMA didn't take into account the high number of poor and elderly residents when it originally denied the disaster declaration request.

[Related: Click here to read Gov. Brewer's letter to Pres. Obama (PDF)]

Four of Arizona's nine House members backed the appeal.

FEMA told Brewer in its original denial letter that the damage to uninsured private homes was not so severe that state, local and volunteer agencies couldn't handle the problems.

[Related: Click here to read Gov. Brewer's letter to Pres. Obama (PDF)]

Brewer says nine of the 108 destroyed homes were uninsured and 17 underinsured.

Brewer originally sent a letter to President Barack Obama to formally request the declaration that she says would have made residents in the path of Yarnell Hill Fire eligible to apply for a loan up to $200,000 in order to repair or replace damaged real estate. It would also have made renters eligible for up to a $40,000 loan.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, and Jeff Flake, R-AZ, also sent a letter to Obama requesting that he "swiftly" consider Brewer's request.

Here is a copy of the letter, sent by spokespeople for McCain and Flake.

"As you know, the Governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, has made a formal request under Section 401 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5207) that you declare a Major Disaster for the State of Arizona as a result of the Yarnell Hill Fire. We are writing to ask that you expeditiously consider this request.

"The Yarnell Hill Fire was both a staggering loss of human life and a significant loss of property. Tragically, the Yarnell Hill Fire claimed the lives of 19 firefighters of the Prescott Fire Department's Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew. In addition, the Arizona Division of Emergency Management has identified a total of 109 homes destroyed by the fire, which accounts for approximately 20 percent of the homes in the unincorporated rural community of Yarnell, Arizona in Yavapai County.

"We thank you for your attention to this matter, and your swift consideration of Governor Brewer's disaster declaration request."

Arizona's congressional delegation signed a joint letter to the FEMA administrator that asked the agency reconsider its original denial to classify the Yarnell Hill Fire a major disaster.

[Related: Click here to read the delegation's letter to FEMA (PDF)]

U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, (D-AZ), issued this statement in the wake of Gov. Brewer's appeal:

"After the Yarnell Hill fire claimed the lives of 19 brave firefighters, many of us in Arizona said we would spare no effort to assist the good folks of Yarnell, Prescott and other affected communities. An important part of that is ensuring they have the federal resources they need. I thank Governor Brewer for her leadership in this effort."

U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, (D-AZ), said: 

"This tragedy will leave physical scars on Arizona for years and emotional scars that will last forever."Today, I stand with Governor Brewer, the state of Arizona and the people of Yarnell and urge FEMA to do the same and to expeditiously approve the state's request for assistance." 

U.S. Congressman Paul Gosar, (R-AZ), issued this statement: 

"It is my hope that the Obama administration reconsiders its denial of aid to the communities devastated by the Yarnell Hill Fire and reverses the decision. This disaster has been an overwhelming loss, in life and assets. A federal disaster declaration seems only appropriate."

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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