INTERACTIVE: The cost of B.C. wildfires over the last decade

The Boulder Creek Wildfire near Pemberton, July 4, 2015. B.C. Wildfire Service

As fire crews continue to battle hundreds of wildfires burning throughout British Columbia, we look at just how much money fighting wildfires has cost B.C. taxpayers in the last decade.

Every year, B.C. government allocates a wildfire fighting budget, but goes over the allotted amount almost every year, at least in the last decade. Only in the 2005/2006 and the 2011/2012 fiscal years, British Columbia came under budget.

So how much money did the province actually spend on fighting wildfires in the last decade?

Here is the breakdown of the budgeted versus actual wildfire fighting costs from 2004 to 2014. Hover or tap on the bars for more info.

Story continues below advertisement

IMPORTANT: In 2011/12, the Wildfire Management Branch received Treasury Board approval to adjust how its budget was allocated. Some expenditures were moved from Fire Preparedness to Direct Fire, resulting in significant administrative efficiencies. The B.C. Wildfire Service says this makes it difficult to compare current and future fire seasons to ones that occurred before this change.

The 2009/10 season was an outlier, because it included a mid-year budget due to an election. This provided the opportunity to increase the budget.

What price tag will the 2015 season come with?

For budgeting purposes, the government of B.C. has allocated $63 million to fight wildfires for the 2015/2016 fire season.

As of July 9, the province has already spent $96.6 million.

The costs have ballooned substantially in just over a week.

On July 6, B.C. Wildfire Service provided Global News with a number of just over $87 million.

On June 29, the total cost stood at $64.4 million, meaning it has grown by more than $30 million in just 10 days.

The most expensive years in the past decade for the province came in 2003/2004 at a total cost of $371,200,659 and 2009/10 at $382,133,831.

The current 10-year average net expenditure is $158,872,462.

Story continues below advertisement

Where will the money for the remainder of the wildfire season come from?

The B.C. Wildfire Service says the government funds any wildfire spending, in excess of the allocation, through forecast allowance and/or contingencies determined by the Ministry of Finance.

The Ministry of Finance, through Treasury Board Staff, monitors spending throughout and after fire season and makes the necessary adjustments to provide sufficient funding.

READ MORE: Full coverage of the wildfires in B.C.

Sponsored content