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Hard to Determine if Firefight Cost is 'Normal'

NewsWatch 12's Rachel Tiede gives us a breakdown of the fire costs.

Posted: Aug. 9, 2018 6:43 PM
Updated: Aug. 10, 2018 5:25 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. -- The fire fight is sitting at about $133.2 million dollars so far for the fires in the Southern Oregon region, according to the National Interagency Coordination Center.

Miles Fire $30.1 million
Snow Shoe Fire $1.6 million
Taylor Creek Fire $17.4 million
Klondike Fire $7.5 million
Natchez Fire $16.3 million
Hendrix Fire $9.2 million
Timber Crater 6 $7.4 million
Garner Complex $43.7 million

There are many things associated with the costs of a fire. This includes the somewhat obvious things like paying fire crews, and paying for aerial support, as well as the retardant itself.

But there are smaller things that add up.

For example, Brian Ballou with the Northwest Area Coordination Center says this also includes food, water, and housing for the fire crews. It also includes everything from all the vehicle maintenance costs, to portable bathrooms at the fire camp, to the paying the people who pick up trash at the camp.

"Every day, sometimes, you can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars feeding and watering and supporting your fire fighters," Ballou said. "Sometimes it's $1 million a day, especially if they're using a lot of aircraft, bulldozers and you have 1,000 people out there working the fire."

According to Ballou, major fires in Oregon and Washington cost $577 million to fight last year. So far, it's cost $246 million. He says it's hard to determine if we're at a "normal" level.

"It's hard to really say what's normal because firefighting costs go up every year," Ballou said. "And when you have areas [where] it's becoming much more common, the fires are very long -- you know the fires are very big and they last a long time."

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