California wildfires have scorched the state this summer, and the costs continue to mount. California’s fire agency has now exhausted its annual budget for 2018 of $442.8 million and now needs an additional $234 million to continue combatting the California fires, according to the Associated Press on Thursday.
It’s tragic if not surprising that the state has run out of money to fight the fires. The fiscal year for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) began July 1, and within the first month, it had already spent $115 million of an allocated $443 million, according to the Sacramento Bee.
In early August, the total cost of the 2018 California fires was already staggering. Suppressing the Carr Fire had cost more than $25 million, and the Ferguson Fire, while it did not grab as many headlines during a frantic fire season, saw its suppression costs soar above $64 million. In addition, with the Mendocino Complex Fire setting a record in a state familiar with the devastating effects and sky-high costs of wildfires, the total cost of finally containing that fire is sure to be record-breaking as well.
Individual victims also have costs to recoup. California’s insurance commissioner David Jones says that just for the two largest wildfires, Mendocino Complex and Carr, victims have filed more than 10,000 claims so far. The total amount of those claims so far exceeds $845 million. Jones said on Thursday that the fires damaged or destroyed a combined 8,800 homes and 329 businesses, according to the Associated Press.
In 2017, the state received more than 45,000 claims totaling more than $11.8 billion. To fight all the 2017 California fires, which were less costly than the 2018 California wildfires, the state fire agency ended up spending well above the initially approved budget of $427 million, with total spending for 2017 reaching $773 million.