State officials say fighting the massive Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park has cost at least $27 million. That’s about 15 percent of the state’s total annual firefighting budget on just one fire.
H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the California Finance Department, says the money comes from the Emergency Wildland Fire Suppression Fund.
“The total budget for the fiscal year that we’re in right now — the one that started on July 1st — is $172 million," Palmer said.
Palmer says about a quarter of that money has been used to fight wildfires over the last eight weeks — and that includes the one burning now near Yosemite.
What happens if the budget dries up and there are still fires to fight?
“The planes are still going to fly," said Palmer. "The tankers are still going to roll, the crews are still going to be deployed, because on a budgetary basis, anything above what’s budgeted we tap from the state’s budget reserve, which is about $1.1 billion.”
Fighting wildfires in California exceeded last year’s budget by about $130 million. The state used funds from this year’s budget to offset that.
The federal government also helps the state with some of the costs.