Tennessee officials estimate $5.5M cost to fight wildfires

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – State forestry officials estimate it will cost $5.5 million to fight wildfires in Tennessee.

While the state Agriculture Department is planning on receiving a federal reimbursement of about $900,000, most of the cost of fighting the fires and paying for out-of-state crews and equipment from as far away as Montana and Alaska will fall to state government.

PHOTOS: Aerial shots of Tennessee wildfires

Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton told Gov. Bill Haslam in budget hearings on Monday that there may be a longer-term cost, too.

Templeton says that because the fires are taking up the time and attention of forestry officials, they aren’t available to plan and prepare for timber sales that usually take place in the first quarter of the year.

Officials note that twice as many acres burned in fires that started in 2000.