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Federal money reimburses state for Roosevelt Fire as forecasters look to upcoming fire season

U.S. Forest Service

Federal money was recently awarded to help replenish costs associated with the Roosevelt Wildfire, which burnt nearly 62,000 acres and 42 homes in Sublette County in 2018.

It cost the state and county about $4 million to stop the fire. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) agreed to pay about 75 percent of the cost over the course of several payouts. Most recently, the agency paid the Wyoming State Forestry Division $1.63 million.

This money helps replenish the state’s Fire Suppression account, which goes toward anything fire-related, like, personnel, equipment, travel, supplies, etc.

“But with the size of fires and the number of fires that doesn't come close to covering the costs,” Bill Crapser, Wyoming state forester, said.

Wyoming counties pay into the account every year. This year, the state legislature added $20 million into the account. Crapser said it took a hard hit after the Mullen Fire burnt more than 176,000 acres 28 miles west of Laramie last year.

The National Interagency Fire Center is predicting an above normal fire season east of the Continental Divide starting in July, which means more

money spent on stopping fires. Wyoming also had an unusually dry winter, which can contribute to more fires.

“Large fires and fast moving fires are becoming more and more the norm instead of the exception,” Crasper said.

But he said a wet spring could change things.

“What really happens with our fire season is what the weather does in May and June.”

Wyoming’s fire season typically runs from July through early September.

Caitlin Tan is the Energy and Natural Resources reporter based in Sublette County, Wyoming. Since graduating from the University of Wyoming in 2017, she’s reported on salmon in Alaska, folkways in Appalachia and helped produce 'All Things Considered' in Washington D.C. She formerly co-hosted the podcast ‘Inside Appalachia.' You can typically find her outside in the mountains with her two dogs.
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