THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
VICE PRESIDENT GORE ANNOUNCES EXPANDED FEDERAL EFFORTS TO FIGHT FLORIDA'S WILDFIRES Also, Stresses The Need For New Efforts to Combat Global Warming To Prevent Future Fires
Washington, DC -- Vice President Gore announced today an expanded federal effort to help Florida combat wildfires, expressed his support for fire victims, and thanked firefighters for risking their lives to protect families living in fire-damaged areas.
"I am here today to express my sympathy to the victims of these wildfires and extend my deepest appreciation to the firefighters who are tirelessly working to protect Florida families," Vice President Gore said. "I also want to assure Florida families that the federal government is ready to assist them as long as necessary during these devastating fires."
While touring the wildfire damage, the Vice President announced additional federal assistance to help Florida fight these fires. This assistance includes: expanding Direct Federal Assistance to allow counties without Fire Suppression Assistance Grants to use federal personnel and equipment to control and suppress fires before they grow and pose a threat to populated areas and structures; and funding mitigation programs to help the state prevent future disasters.
The Vice President also received a briefing on relief efforts from Emergency Center Personnel, met with Florida firefighters, and listened to families talk about the effects of these fires.
Joining the Vice President were: EPA Administrator Carol Browner; Governor Lawton Chiles; Rep. Corinne Brown; and various other federal and state officials.
In his remarks, the Vice President referred to scientists who have concluded that global warming is causing harsher, more extreme weather, including more rainfall and flooding, and more heat and drought.
In Florida, record rainfall followed by record heat and drought set the stage for these fires -- the rainfall caused unusually heavy undergrowth and the relentless heat turned it into tinder.
"These fires offer a glimpse of what global warming may mean to families across America," Vice President Gore said. "And that is why it is so critical that we get on with the job of cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Working together, we can spare other communities like those we have seen here today."