Cost to fight wildfires expected to exceed $1 billion

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The U.S. Forest Service reported on Tuesday it’s expecting the cost to fight wildfires in 2015 will again exceed $1 billion.

In addition, the head of the U.S. Forest Service is calling for “above normal wildland fire potential” in the Western U.S. this summer.

With wildfire activity expected to be at heightened levels, the forest service stated on Tuesday there’s a 90 percent chance that fighting fires during the 2015 wildfire season will be between $794 million to $1.7 billion with a median estimate of $1.225 billion. The forest service stated the median estimate is above the 10-year average and would force the forest service to leverage funding from other vital land management programs. Over the past 10 years, the median cost to fight wildfires has exceeded $1 billion.

“We anticipate another active fire year as above normal wildland fire potential exists across the north central United States and above normal wildland fire potential will threaten many parts of the West this summer,” testified U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell during a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing.

The forest service stated it will have 10,000 firefighters available for the upcoming fire season as well as 21 airtankers available. There will also be eight Mobile Airborne Firefighting System capable C-130s available along with more than 100 helicopters.

President Obama’s budget includes a proposal to reform the way fighting wildfires is funded. The forest service stated the administration’s proposal aligns with the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act. The forest service also stated the reforms contain proposals necessary to fight wildfires.


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