Potter County eligible to apply for wildfire assistance

Amarillo, TX - Potter County may soon receive assistance to help offset the money used to battle the wildfires this past year.

Dozens of wildfires blazed across Potter County between April and August and thousands of dollars were used to help put them out.

Now the county is eligible to apply to the FEMA Public Assistance Program.

Monday morning the county held a meeting to start the process.

The wildfires damaged several areas of Potter County in 2011.

"We still haven't calculated all of the fires that we ran on but we have seen a significant increase in the number of fires," says Richard Lake, Potter County Fire Chief.

They spent over $45,000 battling the flames over the five month time period.

They could now get most of that money back from FEMA.

"They expanded the number of counties they were allowing and moved the time frame. So now the most damaging fires that happened around Labor Day are now covered," says David Kemp, Potter County Attorney's Office.

If the application is approved, the county could receive a 75-percent reimbursement, which is over $33,000.

The wildfires caused extensive damage to the fire department's equipment as well as fire trucks.

If Potter County does receive assistance, some of that money will be going into repairs.

"During those times when your running, it's very hard on your equipment. Our fleet is pretty well aged and we were putting the amount of miles in a couple months on the trucks that we normally would put in six to eight months. So, we're doubling the usage," says Richard Lake, Potter County Fire Chief.

The entire community could benefit.

"Everybody is feeling the economic times, so anything we can get back for the taxpayers to be able to protect them better and to keep the fire department progressing is very beneficial," says Richard Lake, Potter County Fire Chief.

Even though they're applying for the money now, it could take several months before they get an answer back from the federal government.