As wildfires rage across the West, the costs of the fight to protect lives and property are up. But budget cuts imposed by an austerity-minded Congress have meant that funds to protect people are down.
"PORTLAND, Ore. -- It’s costing Oregon $70 million to fight wildfires this summer, compared to the $3 to $7 million for an average summer.
The two largest wildfires in southern Oregon — the Big Windy and Douglas Complex fires — are responsible for almost $60 million of that total. Those costs have mounted as more than 1,000 fire-related personnel have responded to each lightning-caused fire. ...
The cost of Oregon’s firefighting efforts are being calculated on the same day as the U.S. Forest Service announced it’s diverting $600 million from timber, recreation and other areas to fill the nation’s fire-fighting gap.
The nation’s top wildfire-fighting agency was down to $50 million after spending $967 million so far this year, Forest Service spokesman Larry Chambers said Wednesday in an email to the Associated Press."