Hickenlooper authorizes $20M in disaster funds, gets call from Obama

Gov. John Hickenlooper addresses the media. June 12, 2012.

Gov. John Hickenlooper addresses the media. June 12, 2012.

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LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. – Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a disaster declaration Tuesday afternoon, allocating $20 million in emergency funding to help pay for the costs of firefighting efforts.

“The High Park Fire’s proximity to numerous homes, property, and critical infrastructure poses an imminent danger to life and property,” the Executive Order says.

The declaration also allows the state to apply for federal funds that may offset some costs related to the fire.

Earlier Tuesday, Hickenlooper toured the High Park Fire burn area, saying afterward he is “amazed and inspired” by the efforts of firefighters battling the 43,000 acre wildfire.

“You’ve got a bunch of well-trained people working very hard in difficult circumstances, and that’s as much as you can hope for,” said Hickenlooper, who described witnessing a fire crew from Manitou Spring rush to protect a home from approaching flames.

After an impromptu briefing with reporters, the governor received a phone call from President Barack Obama who asked if the state had sufficient firefighting resources. He also expressed sadness for the loss of life.

“The President was thoroughly briefed on what’s going on here,” said Hickenlooper. “He passed along his condolences and any help he could offer.”

The White House released its own statement about the phone call.

“The President underscored that the administration – through the USDA’s Forest Service, the Department of the Interior, as well as the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA – is already making personnel, equipment, and federal grants available to support the response in Colorado and stands ready to provide additional resources should they be needed by responders working to protect lives and property,” said the statement from Deputy Principal Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

Linda Steadman, 62, was killed when her home on Old Flowers Road was destroyed by fire over the weekend.

A Federal Type 1 incident command team is managing the fire battle, directing more than 500 fire personnel and 24 aircraft.

The Larimer County Sheriff’s Office says 100 structures, including homes and outbuildings, have been.

Hickenlooper said he is still considering whether to impose a statewide fire ban.

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