Wednesday is the deadline for residents and business owners affected by the Bobcat and Lake fires to apply for disaster loans.
Businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million from the U.S. Small Business Administration to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. SBA low-interest loans can also help businesses pay for improvements to protect, prevent or minimize the same type of fire damage from occurring in the future.
Loans of up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are also eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.
Economic injury disaster loans are available regardless of whether a business has suffered property damage, and can be used to help meet working capital needs including purchasing inventory, supplies and covering day-to-day expenses such as rent and payroll.
Interest rates can be as low as 3% for businesses, 2.75% for private nonprofit organizations and 1.188% for homeowners and renters, with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are determined by the SBA and based on each applicant's financial conditions.
Assistance with the application can be found at lacountyhelpcenter.org. Those who do not have internet access or do not speak English can call the county's Disaster Help Center Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., at 833-238-4450.
The Lake Fire, which broke out Aug. 12 near Lake Hughes, burned 31,089 acres and destroyed or damaged more than 15 homes and 21 buildings before being 100% contained more than a month later.
The Bobcat Fire erupted in the Angeles National Forest on Sept. 6, blackening about 116,000 acres, destroying 171 structures, including 87 residences and the Nature Center at the Devil's Punchbowl Natural Area, and threatened the Mt. Wilson Observatory. It damaged another 47 structures, including 28 residences, and took weeks to fully contain.