Some county contributions to an emergency firefighting fund are almost doubling this year as Western Slope counties prepare for what could be a bad season of wildfires.
The Emergency Firefighting Fund was created in 1978 to reimburse counties for the cost of fighting big wildfires. For the first few years after it's inception the fund had money left over, but after several seasons of major wildfires the state needs to re–fill the fund.
Skyrocketing property values are raising county contributions. This year Mesa County's payment went from almost 13,500 dollars to more than 22,000 dollars this year. Mesa County Fire Marshall Richard Acree says when the costs for even relatively minor fires costs tens of thousands of dollars, the small fee to the EFF is considered insurance.
Garfield County ranks second in the state for receiving emergency funds with 11 large fires since 1978. Their bill is rising from 13,500 dollars to more than 25,000 dollars, largely due to an increase in oil and gas exploration. Pitkin and Eagle counties are seeing a 10,000 dollar increase each in their contributions.