July 25, 2007

CRAPO, REID SEEK CONTINUED ASSISTANCE FOR FIRE VICTIMS ON THE IDAHO-NEVADA BORDER

Hundreds without power in nation's largest wildfire

Washington , DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today pressed for continued assistance to residents along the Idaho-Nevada border who have been heavily impacted by the Murphy Complex fire, the largest wildfire burning in the nation at more than 560,000 acres.   Both Senators are meeting today with U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials to discuss the situation and are calling for increased support from the Interior Department's Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Services.

 

"We must recognize the gravity of the fire situation and the issues surrounding fire management," Crapo said.   "At the same time, we need to consider the human element in these fires and draw particular attention to the long-term needs of Idahoans and Nevadans who have suffered the loss of food, water, medicine, family ranching operations including animals and forage.  

 

"This fire situation could extend for many more weeks given the weather conditions," Crapo added. "We need to continue the current relief operations, while planning for the possibility that the situation could reoccur.   I appreciate the very broad effort to deal with the needs of the Tribal members at the Duck Valley Reservation, particularly those who are elderly, young, undergoing regular medical treatment and in need of medication.   The geographic isolation of the Reservation requires extraordinary actions on the part of many, and all who have responded in this time of need have gone above and beyond the call of duty."

 

"Fires are spreading out of control across the West, especially on the Nevada - Idaho border," said Senator Harry Reid.  "My heart goes out to all those affected by these fires.  Senator Crapo and I are looking into all means possible to assure those affected have the support they need.  Despite partisan differences I think it is vitally important that western senators work together on this issue which has devastating effects on our states."

 

The Murphy Complex fire has already affected more than 1,200 people in Idaho and Nevada from Jarbidge to Mountain City, Nevada, and in and around the Duck Valley Reservation.   The fire has destroyed livestock and wildlife, and caused numerous evacuations.   It burned down hundreds of power poles, cutting off critical electricity to residents along the Idaho-Nevada border.   Many families have been without electricity, food, and water while suffering with triple-digit temperatures.   The loss of electricity has stopped sewer treatment, water distribution, food refrigeration and air conditioning, resulting in a threat to human health and safety.   Crapo's and Reid's offices have been working in coordination with federal and state response efforts in both Nevada and Idaho to assist those who have been affected by the fire's devastation.  

 

The Shoshone-Paiute Tribal Clinic and Hospital in Owyhee, Nevada, is now running on emergency-generated power with limited operational capacity.   Two 1.25 megawatt generators are being hooked up to the area's power grid in an effort to restore interim power after the fire burned power poles and lines in the area.   Raft River Electric and Idaho Power have been restoring power as quickly as possible.   Tribal leaders say more than 260 homes have been without power.

 

Personnel from both Senator's offices have been working with Tribal leadership, the Mountain Home Air Force Base, the Governor's Offices in Idaho and Nevada, the Bureau of Homeland Security state offices, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in two regions; Owyhee County, Idaho; Elko County, Nevada, and many other organizations.   In addition, the Idaho Foodbank, the community of Mountain Home, Albertsons and many others have stepped up with food, water and ice to satisfy emergency needs.