Costs associated with the deadly Camp Fire will likely reach into the billions, said U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke during a visit Monday to the fire-ravaged town of Paradise.
Zinke, who first visited the region two weeks ago, said he has never witnessed such devastation. The Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in modern California history, has killed at least 85 people.
"There's a lot of things I'd rather spend this federal money on rather than repairing damage of things that have been destroyed," he said, nodding to other public services, such as improving visitor experiences at Yosemite National Park or thinning forests.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue joined Zinke on his tour of Paradise, which was decimated by the fire that ignited in the parched Sierra Nevada foothills on Nov. 8 and quickly spread across 240 square miles, scorching an area roughly the size of Chicago.
Perdue suggested donating timber from the nearby Plumas National Forest to rebuild Paradise.