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More Than 25 Percent Of California's Firefighting Budget Already Up In Smoke


The state of California is burning through its fire fighting budget – less than a month into the new fiscal year.

CalFire has already spent more than a quarter of its emergency fire suppression budget for the entire 2014-15 fiscal year – in just the month of July: $47 million, out of a total budget of $209 million.

“It’s an indicator that we, unfortunately, are likely to have a very busy fire season this year,” says H.D. Palmer with the governor’s Department of Finance. “And it’s in part compounded by the drought conditions – the unprecedented drought conditions – that California is facing this year.”

If CalFire goes over budget – as it’s done in all but three years since 2000 – it’ll turn to the state’s budget reserve. That reserve is less than half the size of the one in last year’s budget.

Still, even if the reserve gets emptied out, “There’s never gonna be a situation when the budget would be a reason that tankers don’t fly and crews aren’t deployed as soon as possible to knock those fires down,” says Palmer.

Should that occur, the state would find more money somewhere else in the California budget.

*The figure for amount spent in 2014-2015 represents just the month of July and doesn't include the full fiscal year.

click here to view a suppression cost chart


Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio 

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