Drought in the West carries an extra threat with it – wildfires. And according to the U.S. Forest Service, 12 million trees killed by California’s long-term drought is adding potential fuel to the fire.
"We have a forest that is really suffering right now," tree removal expert Noah Whitney told CBS San Francisco. "You’re not just talking about a handful of trees. You’re talking about thousands and thousands of acres of trees."
CBS13 in Sacramento offered the following report on what fire agencies are doing this year that’s different from past efforts.
U.S. Forest Service research indicates there is a 90% chance that this year’s fire suppression costs will be between $794 million and $1.657 billion for the Forest Service, with a median estimate of $1.225 billion. That is above the 10-year average.
The U.S. Forest Service has approximately 10,000 firefighters available for the upcoming fire season. The agency says severity of wildfires has increased in recent years not only due to drought, but other factors that include climatic conditions, hazardous fuel buildups, insect and disease infestations and nonnative invasive species. For example, a bark beetle infestation on California pines has destroyed an estimated 800,000 acres of trees last year.