The Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved several formal requests for reimbursement from Santa Barbara and Sonoma counties connected to the assistance provided by Riverside County agencies during catastrophic wildfires last fall.
In a 5-0 vote without comment, the board directed the Emergency Management Department to document the exact costs absorbed by the county and request compensation by a future date.
According to the EMD, when the Thomas Fire erupted in Ventura County and crossed into Santa Barbara County last December, Riverside County Department of Animal Services and other personnel were sent to assist with rescues. The deployment was part of an Emergency Management Mutual Aid Plan under which multiple California counties operate.
The Thomas Fire scorched about 281,000 acres and destroying more than1,000 structures. More than 100,000 people were evacuated during the height of the blaze, and 21 people died, though most of those fatalities were attributed to the flooding, mud and debris flows that occurred during storms following the monster fire.
The cause remains under investigation, though some have laid the blame on Southern California Edison power lines.
In early October, a series of wind-whipped wildfires, collectively dubbed the Sonoma Complex Fires, broke out in Sonoma County. They blackened tens of thousands of acres in Sonoma, Napa and several other Northern California counties, where 44 lives were lost and more than 5,000 structures were damaged or destroyed, according to state officials.
The Emergency Management Department said staff from the Departments of Environmental Health and Public Health were sent to Northern California to render assistance for several weeks under a mutual aid pact.
In both the Thomas Fire and Sonoma Complex fires, state and federal emergency declarations made the affected areas eligible for disaster assistance.
According to the EMD, reimbursement for Riverside County’s aid will likely be paid from whatever allotments the affected counties receive from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.