Montana Fire Suppression Efforts Expected to Grow

August 22, 2008

Residential development is adding to the costs of fighting wildfires in Montana, with a recent study showing that most years federal, state, tribal and county governments spend millions of dollars suppressing wildfires and protecting Montana homes in the woods.

According to Headwaters Economics, there is a strong correlation between the costs of fighting wildfires and the number of homes threatened, and the potential for significant increases in the costs of fire protection if current development trends continue.

The report further stated that:

* The pattern of development (dense versus spread out) is an important contributing factor.

*When large forest fires burn near homes, costs related to housing usually exceed $1 million per fire.

*As few as 150 additional homes threatened by fire can result in a $13 million increase in suppression costs in a single year.

*For all agencies involved in fire suppression in Montana, the estimated annual costs related to home protection for 2006 was approximately $55 million, and approximately $36 million in 2007.

For more information or to view the entire report, visit

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