Illegal Campfire Causes Most Expensive Fire in U.S. History

Big Sur fire (Terry Chea / Associated Press)
Terry Chea / Associated Press

The Soberanes Fire, a wildfire ablaze for the past two months near California’s Big Sur, is now the costliest fire in U.S. history in terms of the sheer expense of fighting it, which already exceeds $200 million — with the fire only 67 percent contained.

Bay Area public radio station KQED notes:

The Soberanes Fire figure does not include actual damages done by the fire such as destroyed homes …

The cost is mostly attributable to the long duration of the fire and the need to pay thousands of firefighters for their daily work, the U.S. Forest Service said. The daily costs got as high as $8 million at the fire’s peak, though they’ve settled at closer to $2 million as the blaze has calmed.

As the station reported in July, the blaze broke out thanks to an illegal campfire, and the state’s super-dry drought conditions: “Authorities announced Tuesday they had determined an illegal campfire in a remote part of Garrapata State Park sparked the fire on July 22. Monterey County District Attorney Dean Flippo said those responsible for the fire could face criminal charges.” One person has died fighting the blaze thus far — a bulldozer driver who died when his equipment overturned.

The Monterey Herald added in August:

Officials have determined the unattended campfire that began the blaze was about 2 1/4 miles east of Highway 1, in an area of Garrapata State Park that is closed to the public. Neither camping nor campfires are allowed in the park.

“The trail leading in and out of area is a common trail, but the campground was not in a part of the sanctioned trail system,” said Cal Fire Batallion Chief Richard Lopez.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.