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Creating 'defensible space' can slow raging flames, giving firefighters an edge
photo credit: (Credit: Oregon Department of Forestry)
Locally, the announcement a bit of a surprise, but not entirely out of the blue. Officials say the money helps fund crucially needed work, and arrived just in time.
Sonoma County officials weren't exactly astounded by Wednesday's announcement. They had, after all applied for the grant, but nevertheless it comes as very welcome news. 
Sonoma County spokesman Matt Brown says there are good reasons President Biden singled Sonoma County out. 
"He said that we had been through wildfires before, we know from experience what to do and how to manage future fires and he said we were receiving the first grant from this new FEMA program." 
The funds will help the county make a bigger dent in a seemingly insurmountable to-do list for reducing fire vulnerability.
"This specific grant is for vegetation management and mitigate future wildfire risks," Brown added. 
Shaded forest fuel breaks, removing so-called ladder fuels that can turn a small blaze into a raging 'crown fire' and creating more defensible space are all on the list.
"It's going to be a great opportunity to get a lot of this work done, and with $37 million, we can get a lot of it done," Brown said.
Brown said residents may soon notice additional crews out in the field, trying to reduce danger before the seemingly inevitable conflagration arrives. 
"We're just thankful to president Biden, to the White House, to FEMA for this, for these funds and we look forward to putting it to use."
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