2014 Fire Season Shaping up to be Far Less Costly Than Recent Years
A light fire season means some big savings for Montana’s fire suppression fund. The state expects to spend about 19 million dollars on fighting fires each year recently, but Montana State Forester with the DNRC Bob Harrington says we’ve only barely dipped into the fund so far this year.
"Our estimated costs of the states portion of the fire season to date are at about $1.8 million," Harrington said. "That contrasts to our five-year average, which is just under $19 million. As a result of that, we still have quite a bit of money left in there, the estimate I have in there is about $44 million that will be carried forward and available to us for future fire seasons."
The 44 million dollars will hopefully help cover costs if we have an extreme fire season, but the costs can ramp up quickly.
"Over the last five years, 2012 was obviously the most challenging... record number of acres burned, record number of houses that were lost to wildfire, and one of the highest net cost years that the state of Montana has seen," Harrington said. "I think in that year, the gross costs were over $70 million are net costs were about $57 million."
When asked how much the DNRC expected to spend on firefighting efforts for the rest of the year, Harrington was hesitant to predict what mother nature would do, but said that the state is in “fairly good shape, and that the “fires to come are likely to not be as big or challenging.”