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Drought Sparks Extra Wildfires - And State Fire Costs

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio
 

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California firefighters have burned through their budget this fiscal year as the state battles its way through a fourth year of drought.

The most recent spending totals available show that as of the end of March, Cal Fire had already spent more than $430 million. That’s more than 10 percent over budget – with three months of the fiscal year still left.

Cal Fire’s Daniel Berlant says the drought is raising the wildfire risk – and not just from lack of rain.

“We’re seeing in our forests not only drier vegetation and trees and brush and grass, but also now an increase in tree mortality – dead trees caused by invasive pests spread because of the drought, which causes more fuel for wildfires,” Berlant said Tuesday on Capital Public Radio's ”Insight with Beth Ruyak.”

Berlant says Cal Fire has already responded to more than 2,000 wildfires since January. That’s more than 50 percent higher than a typical year.

 drought

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