Wyoming wildland fire fund untapped so far

The situation could change quickly and there is plenty of time left in the season for wildfires to break out, the state's top forestry official says.

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Thanks to a relatively quiet wildfire season so far in Wyoming, firefighting agencies have yet to tap a $16 million fund allocated for fire suppression in the state.

“Overall, because of the moisture early, we’re doing really well with the budget,” said State Forester Bill Crapser. “Knock on wood. It could easily change, of course, but we’re doing well overall because of the weather.”

The situation could change quickly and there is plenty of time left in the season for wildfires to break out.

If it does, Crapser said Wyoming is in good position to suppress whatever wildfires flare up.

In 2012, more than $43 million was spent on fighting wildfires. That year, crews from 35 states, some from as far away as Delaware, came to assist state and federal firefighting agencies.

On July 4, 2012, the forestry division had six incident management teams deployed to handle large fires. This year, the agency has yet to deploy an incident management team or spend more than $1 million on Wyoming fires.

Local firefighting personnel have found more work in Washington, where wildfires burned an estimated 485 square miles of timber and destroyed an estimated 334 homes, according to that state’s Emergency Operations Center.

The state of Wyoming sent 88 firefighters and 25 engines out of state on fire assignments this year. Three engines from Fremont County, one from Albany County and one state engine were sent to assist in Washington.

Without the help of fellow western states, wildfire suppression would be much more difficult, Crapser told the Casper Star-Tribune.

“States and areas that are having bad fire seasons depend on areas that aren’t for assistance,” he said. “The state gets reimbursed. We aren’t out there doing this for free for the state of Washington.”



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