The Chaffee County commissioners unanimously approved to extend to Oct. 15 the declaration of a state of local disaster emergency dealing with the Decker Fire.

The state of emergency was initially declared on Oct. 2.

One of the points made in the declaration is that for the next 45 days, the land planning department staff are “directed to prioritize recovery efforts over nondisaster-related work.”

While they will continue to make “best efforts” on all applications filed before Oct. 2, the commissioners are asking staff to focus on work resulting from the fire.

The declaration states “all staff in all county departments are hereby directed to dedicate all available resources to disaster recovery and prioritize disaster recovery efforts over nondisaster-related work.”

The county treasurer and finance director also are authorized to “make available necessary funds to support the disaster emergency response needs up to $200,000 in total.”

“The declaration is the official document for mobilizing the county staff and resources,” Commissioner Greg Felt said. “It puts the state on notice that we may need additional resources from them.

“Since the fire began on federal lands, the county should be reimbursed for all of its expenses. We are putting an additional layer of protection in place with this declaration.”

During the meeting, Finance Director Dan Short said that so far the only substantial expense the county has incurred is overtime.

The commissioners will consider if the declaration should be renewed at their Oct. 15 meeting in Buena Vista. Their next regular meeting will be 9 a.m. Thursday in Salida.

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