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Pipeline Fire suppression costs near $11 million

Pipeline Fire 6/13/22
Ryan Heinsius/KNAU
The Pipeline Fire burns on the San Francisco Peaks and in Schultz Pass on Mon, June 13, 2022. The wind-driven blaze made a major run to the northeast the day it was reported and has triggered nearly 2,200 evacuations.

Suppression costs for the 26,500-acre Pipeline Fire north of Flagstaff are nearing $11 million. The wildfire that ignited more than a week ago has involved heavy use of aircraft and more than a thousand personnel.

As of Monday evening, the Pipeline Fire’s price tag had reached more than $10.7 million. Officials say aviation resources like helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft that drop water and fire retardant so far have accounted for about a quarter of those costs, which are bound to continue rising.

Meanwhile, the nearby Haywire Fire has racked up more than $660,000. At the height of both wildfires last weekend, more than 1,100 personnel were assigned, including 14 hotshot crews, with most battling the Pipeline Fire. Officials say as fire activity winds down and containment increases many firefighters are being reassigned.

To date, April’s 19,000-acre Tunnel Fire near Flagstaff has cost more than $4 million.

Wildfire suppression costs have risen dramatically in recent decades. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, over the last five years more than $2.3 billion on average has been spent annually on fire response nationwide.

In the coming days, a burned area emergency response team that includes hydrologists to examine possible flooding impacts, will begin assessing the severity of the Pipeline Fire and prescribe recovery efforts.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom as executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.