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2013 Montana Fire Supression Costs Extremely Low Compared to 2012

Lolo Creek Fire
Photo courtesy of USDAgov/Flickr

In 2012, Montanans faced an extremely long fire season that plunged deep into October and, though that could still happen in 2013, signs are pointing to a significantly less expensive fire season for the state.

“For the state of Montana our gross costs are about $15.2 million and, after reimbursement, at this point in time we are at about $10.2 million,” said Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation State Forester Bob Harrington. “I want to emphasize that it is not over yet. Some of the costs are still coming in, so that is likely to increase. Last year our final net costs were about $57 million.”

Harrington credits the number of storms with precipitation for the lowered expense. Higher humidity and more frequent rainfall made it much more difficult for fires to expand, which in turn led to fewer acres burned.

“[Concerning the number of wildfires], our department had about 90 percent of our five year average, but only 10 percent of the acres burned,” Harrington said. “About 240 wildfires; 12,000 acres burned. For all agencies we’ve had about 1,500 wildfires; 20,000 acres burned.”

Harrington estimates that unless there are large unforeseen costs, Montana should have nearly $40 million left over from the current season that can be used in spring and summer of 2014.

Bob Harrington:

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