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Officials expect dealing with Arizona wildfire to top $13M

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The cost of fighting a wildfire that burned through a northern Arizona mountain pass and dealing with its aftermath is expected to top $13 million.

The U.S. Forest Service has spent about $10 million so far on suppressing the fire that burned more than 3 square miles (nearly 8 square kilometers) of the Coconino National Forest in Flagstaff, agency spokesman Mark Thibideau said. The cost covers 700 personnel, aircraft and fuel for vehicles involved in the firefighting effort, among other things.

The fire that started July 21 and prompted the evacuation of about two dozen homes was declared fully contained Aug. 15.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The price tag for a federal team that looks at ways to stabilize soil after a wildfire, known as the Burned Area Emergency Response Team, is estimated at $2 million.

Coconino County’s expenses of about $1.4 million include preparing for potential flooding by placing barriers and sandbags in certain areas. Public works director Lucinda Andreani said the county used data on the wildfire scar, topography and estimates on the amount of water that could flow across the landscape to determine where help was needed.

“It wasn’t a ‘just throw a bunch of bags out here and hope for the best’ approach,” Andreani said. “It was very targeted based on depth of the water.”

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Information from: Arizona Daily Sun, http://www.azdailysun.com/

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