Central Washington fires cost $67.5 million

YAKIMA — Battling the four largest wildfires in central Washington this year cost an estimated $67.5 million.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reported that the figure doesn’t include the cost of replacing damaged or destroyed property, or indirect costs such as lost business and tax revenues.

Joe Shramek of the state Department of Natural Resources said firefighters’ wages and benefits and their equipment are always the greatest expense in fighting fires.

At an estimated $33.6 million, wages and benefits are about half the costs this year for the region’s four largest fires: the Taylor Bridge, Table Mountain, Wenatchee Complex and Yakima Complex. The rest of the costs came from support personnel, logistics, supplies and aviation.

Those figures are estimates based on daily field reports compiled by the Department of Natural Resources.

From 2002 to 2011, an average of $26 million a year has been spent in the state to fight wildfires, according to a 2012 report from the state Department of Ecology.

“There’s a pretty good correlation between size (of the fire) and cost,” Shramek said. “It’s not unusual on these large complex fires for costs to be $500,000 to $1 million a day.”

The 56,000-acre Wenatchee Complex cost more than $1.2 million per day to fight.

Large forest fires could become more common if current weather trends continue, according to the report from Ecology.

“The annual area burned by fire in the Columbia Basin is projected to double or triple” in the next 10 to 30 years, the report said.

The real cost of wildfires goes far beyond fire suppression. The total price tag includes rebuilding, lost business and tax revenue and decreasing property values. Those costs can be 2 to 30 times more than suppression costs, the Western Forestry Leadership Coalition has calculated.

More in Local News

These little piggies stay home

Norman, who was spotted last week in Everett, is part of a trio kept as pets by the “pig whisperer.”

Cheering families welcome Kidd, Shoup after 6 months at sea

“I get back Daddy back today,” said one homemade sign at Naval Station Everett.

Stanwood man, 33, killed in crash near Marysville

Speed may have been a factor, the sheriff’s department said.

Street-legal ATVs approved for some roads near Sultan

Supporters foresee tourism benefits. Opponents are concerned about injury and pollution risks.

Jamie Copeland is a senior at Cedar Park Christian Schools’ Mountlake Terrace campus. She is a basketball player, ASB president, cheerleader and, of course, a Lion. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Cedar Park Christian senior stepping up to new challenges

Jamie Copeland’s academics include STEM studies, leadership, ASB activities, honor society.

Woman, 47, found dead in Marysville jail cell

She’d been in custody about four days after being arrested on warrants, police said.

County plans to sue to recoup costs from ballot drop-box law

A quarter-million dollars could be spent adding 19 ballot boxes in rural areas.

Providence Hospital in Everett at sunset Monday night. Officials Providence St. Joseph Health Ascension Health reportedly are discussing a merger that would create a chain of hospitals, including Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, plus clinics and medical care centers in 26 states spanning both coasts. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Merger would make Providence part of health care behemoth

Providence St. Joseph Health and Ascension Health are said to be talking. Swedish would also be affected.

5 teens in custody in drug-robbery shooting death

They range in age from 15 to 17. One allegedly fatally shot a 54-year-old mother, whose son was wounded.

Most Read