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Officials expect dealing with Arizona wildfire to cost $12M

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The cost of fighting a wildfire that burned a northern Arizona mountain pass and dealing with its aftermath is expected to be more than $12 million.

The U.S. Forest Service estimates it has spent about $9 million on efforts to stop the blaze in the Coconino National Forest in Flagstaff, the Arizona Daily Sun reported Thursday.

The blaze sparked on July 21 and was declared 100% contained on Aug. 15. The cause is not yet known, but officials expect to have a report ready soon.

The agency’s estimate includes the cost of 700 personnel, aircraft and gas for vehicles involved in the firefighting effort, said Paul Summerfelt, an official with the Flagstaff Fire and Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project.

The Burn Area Emergency Response team expects a $2 million bill, and Coconino County expects to spend about $1.4 million.

The county’s expenses have been for flood mitigation preparation, including obtaining and installing sandbags and barriers in the area, said Lucinda Andreani, the county public works director.

County officials have placed sandbags and barriers based on burn data, watershed topography and water estimates.

“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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