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Fewer wildfires in the Northwest has reduced spending by millions

Christian de La Chapelle

The total cost of fighting wildfires in the Pacific Northwest plummeted this year.

That is because the 2019 wildfire season has not been as bad, or as expensive to deal with, as  last year — at least in the Northwest, according to a report by KATU News in Portland, Oregon.

The total cost of fire suppression this year in the Northwest cost about $88 million, which is was more than $620 million less than the more than $709.9 million spent on firefighting last year – a reduction of more than 87%.

The cost of fighting fires is not just down this year, the numbers are down in other important fire-related categories.

According to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center, about 178,129 acres have burned in 2019, which is more than a million acres less than last year.

And the total number of large fires has declined more than 72%. Lightning-caused fires are down almost 75% and there were only four human-caused fires in 2019 — a reduction of about 92%.

Cooler temperatures, more rain and an ineffeicient lightnight strikes all contributed to the slow wildfire season, which lasts through the end of September.

"We weren’t getting the heat or the drying that was expected . . . We had a little bit more moisture levels and fuel recovery levels . . . When it [lightning] did hit and where it did hit, it wasn’t strong enough to produce a spark for a fire," Carol Connolly, the NWCC spokeswoman, told Fox Business.

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Favorable weather wasn't the only contributing factor of containing fires in the Northwest. Connolly praised the region's firefighters, saying of all the fires in the Northwest could have become large but didn't.

"When the fires got started, we had the resources to get to them very quickly . . . You want to give a lot of the credit to the people on the ground.”

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