Recouping costs of fighting Utah wildfires isn't easy

Published on July 17, 2017 at 10:12AM

OGDEN, Utah (AP) — Utah fire officials say many of the state’s wildfires over the last two years have been sparked by people, but recouping firefighting costs that can run into the millions of dollars isn’t easy.

The Standard-Examiner in Ogden reports (http://bit.ly/2usERX3) that U.S. Forest Service has only been able to recover one-third of the $33 million in they’ve tried to recover since 2003 though civil actions in Utah.

Insurance companies sometimes cover firefighting costs when the spark is related to a car, for example. But it’s often hard to determine exactly who caused a wildfire, so taxpayers foot the bill. Fires that spread across jurisdictional lines can get even more complicated.

Jason Curry with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands estimates the state recovers less than 10 percent of the cost of human-caused wildfires.