Early Fire Season Proves Costly for Cal Fire

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A Cal Fire firefighter in Tehama County.


Fire burns through trees, brush, acreage and money.

Cal Fire has now spent $170 million of its $220 million emergency budget fighting wildfire.

“This year has a lot of potential for a lot more large and damaging wildfires,” said Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant. “Conditions are so dry.”

Firefighters on the Panther Fire in Tehama County, near Chico, told our FOX40 crew that fire was flourishing there in conditions they’d expect to see in late June, not early May.

Cal Fire’s depleted budget is designed to last through June, to July 1 and the new fiscal year. But the state-wide fire fighting agency is making plans in case it doesn’t.

“We do have the ability to go back and work with the Department of Finance, work with the legislature, to make sure that emergency fund has the money it needs,” Berlant said.

It’s the money to pay for personnel and equipment including air tankers dumping fire retardant. Air tankers cost $2,600 an hour to operate.

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