The estimated cost of Colorado wildfires surpasses 200 million dollars

22 October 2020

Published by https://www.koaa.com/

USA – Rough estimates of fire suppression costs in Colorado this year add up to about $214 million dollars and counting.

The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) provides a situation report daily including the cost to date of active wildfires.

NIFC current fire suppression costs as of October 22:

Cameron Peak: $96.4 million
Calwood: $2.5 million
Lefthand: $500,000
East Troublesome: $5.5 million
Williams Fork: $24.2 million
Ice: $600,000
Middle Fork: $15 million

Not included in the daily report are fires that are contained or the fire suppression costs are not increasing. Estimated costs of the Pine Gulch Fire total $35.2 million and $34.3 million for the Grizzly Creek fire.

Note that these are rough estimates. Total costs aren’t likely to be tallied until the fires are contained in the winter.

Brian Achziger, the State Fire Management Officer for BLM Colorado, says that aviation efforts are the most costly followed by other equipment and fire crews. And in general, fire suppression accounts for the majority of the wildfire management budget.

Who is footing the bill?

The federal money spent on fighting wildfires comes from our tax dollars. These funds are appropriated to the Department of Interior (DOI) and the United States Forest Service (USFS) and then allocated to their bureaus and state and regional offices.

In 2020, the total wildland fire management budget was $952 million dollars. This includes costs of fire suppression, fuels management, facilities, burn area rehabilitation and science.

Jessica Gardetto the chief of external affairs with the BLM National Fire and Aviation and the NIFC, tells News 5 that as of the end of September, the Department of Interior had spent $509.956 million on fire suppression, which is about 67% of the DOI fire suppression budget of $760.962 million.

According to the DOI Office of Wildland Fire, the cost of suppression nationally has risen from $200 million in 1994 to about $400 million in 2018. They attribute this rise in cost to changes in climate, fuel accumulations, population increase, and insect/beetle kill fuels.

Who is left out?

Now all this just covers the costs to the government. This does not account for local volunteer fire departments aiding the fight, victims of wildfire, or costs associated with animal care. You can support wildfire victims through the Red Cross, or other ways that we cover in depth here.

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