California adds $70 million to firefighting efforts

Firefighters may have finally gotten the upper hand on the massive King fire, but its legacy continues as the state wrestles with how to pay millions in firefighting costs incurred in what is being called one of the worst fire years in recent history.

On Monday, state Department of Finance officials notified lawmakers that the $209 million set aside in the budget for emergency firefighting already has been exhausted, and that officials are transferring another $70 million from a special account into the emergency fund because of fires in numerous counties.

“In order to pay the many vendors who provide critical goods and services for Cal Fire’s firefighting activities in these counties, and to avoid the costs of late payment penalties, the Department of Finance will be authorizing a transfer of $70 million from the Special Fund for Economic Uncertainties to the Disaster Response-Emergency Operations Account,” Director Michael Cohen wrote in a letter to lawmakers.

The letter noted that California “continues to battle one of the worst fire seasons in recent memory,” and that from Jan. 1 through Sept. 20, Cal Fire had fought 4,974 fires, 1,203 more than the average for that period.

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