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Price tag of Sawmill Fire: $4.25 million and rising

Posted at 9:53 PM, Apr 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-30 12:45:31-04

The cost of the Sawmill Fire has grown to $4.25 million dollars and that number will continue to rise the longer the fire burns.

"We'll use the resources necessary that we have to to ensure that we have full suppression efforts of the fire. So every day that we are fighting this fire, the containment cost will continue to increase," Sandra Lopez of the Type 1 incident management team said. 

Lopez said the costs so far are pretty standard for a fire this size from the sheer number of personnel to the resources needed. 

Aerial resources account for 56 percent of the price tag.

It costs $54,000 a day for an air tanker and $318,000 a day for a DC-10.

"Retardant drops and water drops when we are using aerial resources can be expensive," Lopez said. 

So who picks up the costs? 

It's paid for by the different agencies that are responsible for controlling the fire: the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Arizona Department of State Forestry.

The burden, however, comes back to the taxpayers.

"It will be the taxpayers because those agencies are funded by taxpayer moneys," Lopez said.

She went on to say that these fires have both serious safety and financial impacts. 

"One spark can start a wildfire, and it can cost into the millions of dollars based on the resources needed to suppress that fire," Lopez said.

The focus now is getting this fire contained as quickly as possible.

"As the containment goes up, the cost every day will go down because we won't need as many resources on the ground as we have in the previous days," Lopez said.