Jul 31, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Some victims of wildfire caused by U.S. Forest Service paying to fix damages

A firefighter works on putting out a hotspot from the Calf Canyon Fire in Mora, New Mexico. Photo: Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The victims of the largest fire in New Mexico's recorded history are being asked to pay a portion of recovery costs, despite promises that the federal government would issue funds to repair damages, Reuters reported.

The big picture: The United States Forest Service disclosed in late May that it had caused the two fires that later converged to form the Calf Canyon Fire, which burned more than 300,000 acres and destroyed more than 750 structures.

  • When President Joe Biden visited the state in June, he said the federal government would cover "100% of the cost of debris removal and emergency protective measures for the next critical months."
  • "We have a responsibility to help this state recover, to help the families who have been here for centuries, and the beautiful northern New Mexico villages who can’t go home and whose livelihoods have been fundamentally changed," Biden said.
  • Biden's promise was meant to bridge the gap in relief funds while Congress works to pass a bill compensating the victims of the fire.

Driving the news: However, federal cost-sharing statutes have made it difficult for the federal government to follow through on this promise, according to Reuters.

  • One victim told Reuters that he was asked to pay 25% of the cost to fix his well and that it would take months. Instead, he chose to fix the well himself.
  • Another fire victim said he was deemed ineligible for relief funds and paid for the recovery work himself, according to Reuters.
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