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Feds to reimburse state $2.4 million for Almeda, South Obenchain firefight

The Almeda fire leveled neighborhoods in Phoenix and Talent in September 2020. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden Wednesday announced $2.48 million in reimbursements to the state for fire response and debris removal. [Jamie Lusch/Mail Tribune]

The state will receive $2.48 million from the federal government for fire response and debris removal in Southern Oregon during the 2020 Labor Day fires.

The FEMA reimbursements headed to the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s office will cover costs the state sustained fighting the combined 37,000-acre fires, according to a joint press release issued Wednesday by the offices of U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.

“Southern Oregon has made incredible progress recovering from these catastrophic fires, but these efforts have been challenging and expensive,” Wyden said in the release. “As we anticipate more and more challenging wildfire seasons to come, I am gratified to see FEMA dollars go toward recovery and prevention for Southern Oregon as Oregonians continue to work to rebuild our communities.”

Merkley stated that the region “still needs every available resource to continue their recovery.”

The fires wiped out thousands of homes and numerous businesses in the cities of Phoenix and Talent.

The reimbursements also cover costs for evacuating communities, watching for hazardous materials during the fire and the agency’s mop-up work immediately after the fire.

Oregon State Fire Marshal Mariana Ruiz-Temple said in a prepared statement in the release that local communities rely on federal reimbursements “for recovery resiliency and response.”