Las Vegas Sun

April 24, 2019

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Sen. Cortez Masto asks federal agency to reconsider aid denial in northeastern Nevada fires

RENO — Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto is asking a federal agency to reconsider its decision to deny an emergency assistance grant involving a wildfire in northeastern Nevada.

The fire, which started last month, burned an area about four-fifths as large as Los Angeles, the Reno Gazette Journal reported Monday.

It destroyed personal property and public lands, affecting ranchers, agriculture, recreation and wildlife habitat, Cortez Masto said in a letter to Robert Fenton, administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's region that covers Nevada.

As many as 100 people fled their homes and another 40 were under voluntary evacuation advisories, Cortez Masto said in the letter dated Friday.

She also referred to another wildfire that started earlier this summer and burned more than 625 square miles.

"Nevadans whose livelihood is tied to our public lands, whether for grazing, energy development, conservation and other purposes, are particularly impacted when natural disasters occur," Cortez Masto wrote.

Her letter came weeks after FEMA rejected the state's grant application because the agency determined the northeastern Nevada fire "did not threaten such destruction as would constitute a major disaster."

Sen. Dean Heller and Rep. Mark Amodei, both Republicans, have also spoken out against FEMA's decision.

A spokesperson for FEMA's Nevada region did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter.