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Over $7.8M spent to fight Party Rock fire

(FILE) The Party Rock fire near Lake Lure burned its way across more than 7,000 acres in parts of three counties. Some 1,200 homes were threatened, people were evacuated and crews were brought in from across the country. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Now that the smoke has cleared from last month's wildfires in Western North Carolina, we're beginning to get a look at what fighting the flames actually cost.

At least 30 fires scorched tens-of-thousands of acres of federal and state land and plenty of private property for weeks. All the numbers aren't in yet, but it's safe to say from the totals News 13 did receive, protecting all that land and property wasn't cheap.

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The Party Rock fire near Lake Lure burned its way across more than 7,000 acres in parts of three counties. Some 1,200 homes were threatened, people were evacuated and crews were brought in from across the country.

Officials with North Carolina and Oregon forestry services said $7,889,344 was spent fighting that one blaze.

"There's a lot that goes into calculating the expenses of these fires," Lisa Jennings, a natural resource specialist for the U.S. Forest Service, said. "We bring in whole teams just to help with the costs."

Jennings said each fire has a finance department that helps track all the costs.

"They'll log all the costs from folks coming in working on the fire, the firefighters, you know, whether you buy a box of pens or order an airplane," she said. "They're keeping track of those costs."

Ultimately, taxpayers foot the bill.

"It's a really critical job that folks don't think about because this is taxpayer money, whether it's from the state or from the federal government, and we want to make sure that we're responsible in spending that," Jennings said.

Some of that spending can go on for up to a year in some cases. Crews switch from fighting fires to restoring burned-out areas, including erosion-control and replanting.

It's all part of the recovery process that makes areas safer come next fire season.

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