WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS4) – Congressman Joe Neguse is leading the push to include wildfire relief in the next COVID-19 stimulus package. The East Troublesome Fire and the Cameron Peak Fire burned more than 300,000 acres in Colorado this summer, both burning in the congressional district that Neguse represents.

East Troublesome Fire burn area on Nov. 1, 2020 (credit: CBS)

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“A record 2020 wildfire season has forced thousands of evacuations, threatened air and water quality, and destroyed homes and businesses,” Congressman Neguse said in a news release on Tuesday. “Communities that have been fighting the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19 are now also beginning the long journey of recovering from catastrophic wildfire.”

Neguse joined Senator Ron Wyden in sending a letter to Democratic and Republican lawmakers in both the House of Representatives and the Senate calling for wildfire mitigation and recovery funds to be included in the next COVID-19 stimulus package.

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East Troublesome Fire

East Troublesome Fire (credit: CBS)

Specifically, that letter calls for cash to cities to keep firefighters on payroll and to pay for resources, investments in risk mitigation systems, federal support for late-season hotshot crews and other federal-level fire response efforts, and investments in state- and local-level recovery efforts to revitalize environmental health, water quality, and community economies after wildfires.

Cameron Peak Fire, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020 (credit: Windsor Severance Fire Rescue)

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The Cameron Peak Fire, the largest in state history, burned 208,913 acres west of Fort Collins. The East Troublesome Fire, the second largest in Colorado history, burned 193,812 acres in Grand and Larimer Counties. Both are now 100% contained.

Ben Warwick