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American Fire Pricetag: $1 Million Per Day


Among the green pines, on the fire-red clay of Foresthill, a big business has grown overnight.

“This is a very complicated business and it is very expensive,” says Peter Frenzen, California Interagency Management Team 4 Information Officer. Frenzen is living in this temporary city. It includes showers, generators, a catering tent, air conditioned sleeping quarters and it supports nearly 2,000 people from two-dozen agencies.

“BLM, Forest Service, Parks Service, all the major, state fire, Cal Fire, and then there are all kinds of fire service people from various fire departments when there is a mobilization when there is a potential threat to structures.” - Peter Frenzen, California Interagency Management Team 4 Information Officer

Frenzen himself is a scientist who usually studies Mt. St. Helens. U.S Fish and Wildlife Service is here, so are vehicles from the Cities of Richmond, Dinuba, Montebello, Rocklin, even Ventura and Los angeles Counties. Behind the scenes there is a meteorologist a planner and analysts who run computer simulations of fire behavior and cost-benefit analysis.

“Oh yeah, we have a whole finance system, we have experts in not only the actual business management in managing something of this size, tracking all the costs, tracking all the expenses," Frenzen says.

Management, fire crews and air support have cost $6.8 million; equipment cost $1.6 million; support $1.4 million and supplies $200,000. Add it all up, and they’ve burned through $10 million in 10 days. It will all be paid for out of federal funds.

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