Wildfires expected to cost more than $1 billion to extinguish
Thursday, May 8, 2014
MANHATTAN — Fire season lasts longer and costs more, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The report projects the Forest Service and Department of the Interior will need $1.8 billion to extinguish the 2014 wildfires, which is about $470 million more than budgeted.
Rodney Redinger, fire-training specialist with the Kansas Forest Service at Kansas State University, has been fighting fires for 16 years and has noticed that they are becoming more difficult to extinguish. One challenge is the number of homes now located adjacent to wildland.
"On every fire that we go on now it seems there are houses threatened, and that makes it really, really hard," Redinger said.
Firefighters are also following new mitigation strategies to avoid unnecessary risk. Last year, 34 wildland firefighters died in the line of duty.
"In the last 16 years, there's been a lot of movement to appropriately manage fires across the country instead of just running in and trying to put it out," Redinger said.
The USDA report found that fire season now lasts 60-80 days longer. If the fire season is as expensive as expected, the Forest Service and Interior Department will have to take funds from other programs.