Springfield Mayor Sarno to FEMA: Fire Hazard from Tornado Debris is "Immediate Threat to Life"
Brush fires continue to burst out around Western Massachusetts - and some of them, like one in Brimfield last week, appear to be fueled by debris left by last years tornado and other weather events. Now, Springfield Mayor Dominic Sarno is starting to worry about that a new wave of disaster could be caused by the mass of debris that's still sitting in back yards all around the city. And about the millions of dollars it could cost to get the debris removed.
Sarno sent letters today to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Governor Deval Patrick asking for the formal determinations needed to qualify for financial assistance from the feds. The situation, he wrote, is "An immediate threat to life." Dennis Pinkham, a spokesman for FEMA, says the agency shares the city's concerns about the potential fire hazard.
"We do. The FCO, Mark Landry... has been working closely with the mayor of Springfield, and several of the city concilors and also the city department of public works. And we have experts at the joint field office workoin on th eproject work sheets that have been submitted by the citues and towns."
Sarno says the cost could be as high as $7 million -- much of that for removing debris from private property. FEMA'S Pinkham says the agency can provide limited assistance for private debris removal, but he was unsure of just how much of Springfield's projected costs might qualify.