Footing the bill: Pine ridge fire costs

By: Rob Hughes Email
By: Rob Hughes Email

DEBEQUE, Colo. (KKCO) KKCO wanted to know more about who pays for this, and will it affect your pocketbook? The smell of smoke in the Grand Valley is a constant reminder of the magnitude of this fire. But experts say coordinating efforts to fight a massive fire is similar to a military deployment. There is a lot of money, logistics, and personnel involved.

"Every fire organization consists of many moving parts," says
Rick Barton, one of over 400 people fighting the Pine Ridge fire."We have folks that come in from all over the country on every major fire," says Barton. And the system in place to fight major fires, like Pine Ridge, moves like a well-oiled machine. "Every individual component makes the whole machine work." But it costs money to make that machine work. "Our fire resources are stretched very thin around the country right now."

Mesa County will foot the bill for day one of the Pine Ridge fire on Wednesday. "There was some county obligation because of the private property that burned," says Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey.
Hilkey says that amount will be more than $10,000. "Deputy sheriff staff time, overtime, county road and bridge time; to shut down roads and set up barricades, those types of things," explains Hilkey.

Governor Hickenlooper has declared a state emergency due to the Colorado wildfires. "So that will help open up more federal funding for this fire," add Hilkey. It will also open up state funding, saving Mesa County dollars, and bringing America's finest firefighters for unexpected disasters. "Sometimes these fires aren't budgeted costs," says Hilkey.

But it takes a special type of person to fight these fires. "If I can help them in their lives, in their everyday life; then I want to be that person," says Barton. And they deserve to be compensated. "Maybe I don't particularly care about you at home, but on a fire, we depend on each other, and we help each other."

From Sunday to Monday, the cost of the fire went from $986,167, to $1,646,167 dollars.

Officials tell us residents will not be taxed to help offset the cost of the fire. We're also told the Pine Ridge Fire is one of the largest Mesa County has seen in several years.

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