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Federal aid not expected for Blue Cut Fire victims

County residents who have lost their homes to the Blue Cut Fire have been asking local relief workers if federal assistance will be available to help them rebuild. Unfortunately, the fire is not expected to reach the threshold needed to qualify for a federal disaster declaration and the federal aid that would follow.

The ongoing Blue Cut Fire burning through several San Bernardino County communities already stands as one of the most costly disasters to strike the county in recent years. But counties, cities, and other local government agencies cannot directly request federal aid. Only states can ask for a federal disaster declaration.

San Bernardino County declared a local emergency on Tuesday, the day the fire broke out. In response, the governor declared a state emergency, but the fire did not meet the threshold for a federal disaster.

The county is helping fire victims to the degree that it can by operating a Local Assistance Center at the San Bernardino County Fairgrounds in Victorville. The center is a one-stop location for the various services available to fire victims. Among the services assembled by the county at the center are the state Department of Insurance and various insurance companies who can provide homeowners with advice and assistance on restoring their properties.

The Local Assistance Center also includes representatives from the county Assessor/Recorder/clerk and the departments of Children and Family Services, Aging and Adult Services, Behavioral Health, Public Health, Veteran’s Affairs, Land Use Services, Transitional Assistance and Workforce Development. Also available are the State Department of Motor Vehicles, Oak Hills Water District, Community Action Partnership and Southern California Edison.

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