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New Mexico Fire Victims Expose FEMA Failures, Renew Call for Urgent Course Correction

Mar 21, 2024

Victims’ group releases summary of FEMA’s ongoing failures to process and pay wildfire claims in accordance with state and federal law.

LAS VEGAS, NM (March 21, 2024) – The Coalition for Fire Fund Fairness (CFFF) – a grassroots coalition of victims of the 2022 Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire in Northern New Mexico – today released a summary of FEMA’s ongoing failures to process and pay fire victims’ claims in accordance with federal and New Mexico law.


The summary lists 10 examples of FEMA’s failures to manage the claims process for victims of the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire. CFFF issued the following statement in connection to the publication of the Summary of FEMA’s Ongoing Failures:


On April 6th, we will mark two years since the U.S. Forest Service triggered the devastating Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire, leading to the destruction of more than 330,000 acres of land in Northern New Mexico and causing more than 25,000 people to flee their homes. Imagine an area the size of Los Angeles completely engulfed in flames, and then imagine that nearly two years later, almost nothing has been done to help the people who lost everything.


Beyond the physical devastation, FEMA’s failures to respond to the disaster in accordance with federal and state law has led to the ongoing trauma of thousands of New Mexicans, many of whom remain displaced to this day. CFFF was formed to give a voice to the voiceless and to call on our elected leaders to help us hold FEMA accountable. Under the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act (P.L. 117-180), the funds are there, and the law is clear about how they should be dispersed, yet FEMA continues to reject its obligation to make lawful and timely determinations regarding submitted claims and compensate victims for the full extent of damages allowed under New Mexico law.


Enough is enough. Today, we released 10 specific examples of FEMA’s failures, which underscore the gravity of the situation. Each example runs afoul of President Biden’s promise of full and total compensation for New Mexico wildfire victims. Despite the President’s promise, FEMA has only disbursed about 10% of the $3.95 billion compensation fund. It is high time for FEMA to appoint a claims director that is well versed in New Mexico law to take charge and effectively manage this process. CFFF calls on the White House, Congress, and other stakeholders to hold FEMA accountable and push the agency to immediately correct course.


CFFF’s Summary of FEMA’s Ongoing Failures and more information about the impact of the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire is available at

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