State Examines Fire Funding Options

GLENDALE, Ore. — Governor John Kitzhaber says he’s already exploring the state’s options for what’s expected to be a massive fire bill.

The state has a complex formula for how it pays for the costs to fight fires. An Oregon Department of Forestry spokesperson says the state and landowners split the first $20 million.

An insurance policy picks up the next $25 million. If costs exceed $45 million, the burden then falls back on the state.

During a weekend press conference in Glendale, Kitzhaber says he’s talked with state leaders about the potential expenses and where it will find the money in the general fund. In the meantime, he’s focused on the flames.

“Well we’ve got to get ahead of them. We’ve got make sure that we’re two, three, four weeks ahead and make sure the resources are there. Both the financial resources and the aviation resources,” said Kitzhaber.

He says conditions are worse than they were back in early August back in 2002, which was the last major fire season. The Biscuit Fire burned nearly half a million acres.

So far the Douglas Complex has burned about $15.1 million in resources.

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