This Year's Wildfire Bill Tops $204 Million

It's the heftiest bill Southern California taxpayers have had to pay to fight wildfires in the past three fiscal years

Southern Californians are getting a look at the high cost of fighting wildfires in the Golden State.

Calfire officials told NBC4 Monday that since July 1, 2012, which begins the fiscal year, taxpayers have paid $204 million to protect their homes from numerous wildland fires.

In 2011-12, the state spent $140 million, and $90 million the year before.

In recent months, fire activity, mostly in Southern California, has spiked 77 percent, according to Calfire’s Daniel Verlant, stationed at the agency’s Sacramento headquarters.

This year’s $204 million bill does not include money spent fighting fires in federally owned land.

U.S. Forest Service officials are still working on providing NBC4 the cost at the federal level.

But forest service spokesman John Miller said fighting fires isn't cheap.

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"When you look at the total package – helicopter, air tankers hot shot crews, engine crews, dozers and all the support personnel – wildland fires can get very expensive," Miller said.

San Bernardino resident Gordy Sinn said it’s a high price taxpayers have to pay for safety.

"The amount of property they save is well worth whatever they have to invest to make it safer for all the people in the community," Sinn said.

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