Toll on state finances

Not surprisingly, the wildfire tab is growing.

The state has exceeded projected fire suppression costs in seven of the last 10 years. In 2018, California spent nearly $1 billion on fire suppression and emergency response, far exceeding the budgeted $450 million.

Cal Fire boasts one of the largest, if not the largest, firefighting air fleets in the world, including S-2T air tankers and Huey helicopters. The state will start upgrading the Hueys to Black Hawks and begin to add C-130 Hercules cargo planes.

And rather than waiting to respond to a wildfire, emergency personnel have shifted to pre-positioning strike teams before a fire even starts. It’s a strategy that costs more.