Congress Refuses to Budget for Wildfires

From the LATimes: Editorial Wildfires are natural disasters, but Congress refuses to budget for them.

Two decades ago, the cost of fighting fires only consumed about 15% of the Forest Service’s budget. But increased development in and around undeveloped open spaces, along with, paradoxically, decades of fire suppression, mean that wildfires are growing larger, more intense and more dangerous to communities. Many scientists believe the warming climate is exacerbating the situation.

As the cost of firefighting has gone up, the Forest Service budget has stayed relatively flat. The result is that fire suppression now consumes 55% of the agency’s annual budget, and some officials estimate that could grow to two-thirds in a few years.

Residents Return to Fort McMurray

Neither re-entry nor recovery are easy to do. See: Fort McMurray Fire: Road Blocks Lifted As Residents Allowed To Return To City. Some details:

Returning residents are being warned that it won’t be business as usual and to bring with them two weeks worth of food, water and prescription medication as crews continue to work to get basic services restored.

Crews have been working to get critical businesses such as banks, grocery stores and pharmacies running again. Supplies of some items may be limited in the beginning and the government says some things may need to be rationed.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley plans to be in Fort McMurray when the first evacuees return because she says the city will not be the same one they left. It’s not like, ‘OK, you’re home. See ya. Bye bye,”’ she said.

Wildfires = “wicked” problem

From the Homeland Security News Wire: WildfiresU.S. must address the “wicked problem” of wildfire.

U.S. wildfires burned more than 10.1 million acres in 2015 — a new record. Wildfire suppression costs the United States, on average, $2.9 billion a year. Researchers say that the United States must make preparing for and adapting to wildfire a top national priority, recognizing that widfire is a “wicked problem” — one so complex that a one-size-fits-all solution does not exist.

Dealing with Wildfires

Recently I  heard on the TV news that about 25,000 firefighters are dealing with wildfires in 10 states.  The huge human and financial investment in this hazard needs to be reviewed.

From CNN:  Wildfires blamed on climate change: More flames, higher costs

The trend of an increasing number of large wildfires is taxing the nation’s capabilities to efficiently put out the blazes.

The U.S. Forest Service, which bears the largest share of the national firefighting responsibilities, reported this month that for the first time, the agency is devoting more than half its total budget to fighting fires, up from 16% 20 years ago. The percentage could rise to two-thirds of its funding by 2025, the Forest Service said in a report.


I am not sure if this is a first, but expert wildfire experts from Australia and NZ are coming to the U.S. to help. This is at the request of the U.S.D.A.

Another unusual step is that of asking for volunteers to help fight fires in Washington state.