California is on pace to exceed its annual wildfire-fighting budget less than three months into the fiscal year. This year’s budget allocated $209 million to Cal Fire’s emergency fund. Through Thursday, the agency had spent $191 million.
The state projects how much money it will need for wildfires based on a rolling average of how much it spent over the previous five years. A decade ago, that total was about $90 million. Now it’s consistently over $200 million. Cal Fire officials blame drought conditions for the steep increase.
“Oftentimes that won’t be enough,” said Cal Fire Chief Deputy Director Janet Barentson. “Depending on the year -- and this is going to be one of those years -- we’re going to exceed this amount.”