Wildfires burn through government coffers

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Wildfires have blackened more than 9 million acres. Most of that has been in the West. Now the bill to fight those fires is coming due. Austin Jenkins has more.


AUSTIN JENKINS: This year the federal government's fire budget was just under a billion dollars. But it's estimated the actual cost of fighting fires this summer has already topped $1.5 billion.

In Washington State, fire managers overspent their budget by nearly $40 million. That means they will go begging to the legislature next year.

In Oregon, they didn't bust the budget but fire information officer Rod Nichols says the fire forecast for the coming years is troubling.
ROD NICHOLS:"Fire managers think that we entered into a climate cycle that is going to bring mostly hotter, drier fire seasons. And that trend is expected to continue for a decade or so."

Fires are still burning across the West with California the primary hot spot.

I'm Austin Jenkins for Marketplace.

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