Publication Date October 6, 2016 | Boise Weekly

Pioneer Fire Makes List of Top-10 Most Expensive Western Wildfires

United States
Boise National Forest. Photo: U.S. Forest Service
Boise National Forest. Photo: U.S. Forest Service

The Pioneer Fire is the ninth most expensive wildfire in the history of the western United States, according to a report from High Country News.

HCN's ranking covers the 10 most expensive wildfires in the region, based on National Interagency Fire Center data. That includes suppression costs like firefighter wages, hotshot crews, food, support personnel and equipment, but the main drivers of wildfire costs are proximity to urbanized areas, the severity of the fire and firefighting strategies, according to a public affairs specialist for the U.S. Forest Service.

The list is topped by the Soberanes Fire, which is currently ravaging state park and national forest land near Big Sur, Calif. Its current estimated cost is more than $236 million and is expected to be contained later this month.

The cost of the Pioneer Fire is expected to top $94 million. Like the Soberanes Fire, it's still burning, having scorched more than 188,000 acres in the Boise National Forest since it began in July. It's currently more than 70 percent contained.

The HCN list doesn't take into account insurance or damage costs for private property, which could greatly increase the total cost of fires.