Thousands of firefighters are working around the clock at wildfires throughout the state, and it’s racking up a huge bill for California, with typically the worst months of the fire season still ahead.
Cal Fire said Wednesday there are 30,000 firefighters on the fire lines in California, and 16 states across the country are sending help. While the federal government has stepped in to pay for the out of town fire crews, the situation seems to worsen with each day.
"Our average wildland response is around 300 fires a week in the state of California," Cal Fire Deputy Chief Scott McLean said. "Last week, there were over a thousand."
Only one month into the new fiscal year, the state has spent $115 million on fighting fires. That’s amounts to a quarter of California's emergency fund to cover the fight against all 17 major wildfires burning across the state.
Gov. Jerry Brown told the media Wednesday the state has money to deal with it now, but as the weather becomes more extreme, it’ll get tight.
"Over a decade or so, we’re going to have more fire, more destructive fire, more billions that will be have to be spent on it," he said.
If the state ends up spending more than it budgets for fires, it has the option of tapping into reserves and has done so multiple times over the past decade.
"This goes to show you what we’re up against," McLean said. "I mean, the firefight is huge."
Eight people, including four firefighters, have died and hundreds of homes have been destroyed in the Northern California fires.
Cal Fire said they’re putting more money into fire prevention such as removing some of the fuel.
"You’re going in there, and you’re thinning out the forest or the brush," McLean said. "You’re making it where the trees aren’t as dense, the brush isn’t as dense. You’re taking all that dead material off the ground."
Cal Fire says 95 percent of wildland fires in California are caused by people.