President Barack Obama declared a major disaster in Colorado late Thursday, making funds available for two large fires in the state which have reportedly destroyed nearly 600 structures combined. Obama was to tour fire-stricken areas Friday.
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), assistance has been made available to Colorado to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the High Park and Waldo Canyon Fires.
Federal funding is available for crisis counseling and disaster unemployment assistance for affected individuals in El Paso and Larimer counties impacted by the High Park and Waldo Canyon Fires.
Federal funding also is available to state, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, for El Paso and Larimer counties impacted by the High Park and Waldo Canyon Fires, FEMA said.
Michael F. Byrne has been named federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. Byrne said that damage surveys are continuing in other areas, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after the assessments are fully completed.
Thousands of homes were in danger from the Waldo Canyon Fire at one point, as well as the U.S. Air Force Academy, and forced the evacuation of 32,000 residents. The fire has consumed more than 16,000 acres are is 15 percent contained.
Reports are that the fire has destroyed 347 structures.
Late Thursday authorities said the remains of one person were found in a home where two people had been reported missing, according to an Associated Press report.
The High Park Fire, considered the state’s second largest and its most destructive, has consumed 87,284 acres and is 85 percent contained. The total number of homes lost is now 269 homes after assessments were conducted.