From the current issue of Bloomberg Businessweek this week - Fires Are Raging Across The American West, And There Aren't Enough People To Stop Them by Kyle Dickman:
"Accounting for insurance costs, damages to businesses and infrastructure, and the flash floods and mudslides caused by denuded slopes, this year's fires will likely cost taxpayers $25 billion - and that's if a whole town or city doesn't burn, which is a distinct possibility. If that happens, according to a report by the Natural Resources Council, the costs could double or triple: One hundred forty million Americans live in the fire-prone regions, and $237 billion in property sits in those high-risk areas.
The Forest Service, the country's largest wildland firefighting agency, has spent $800 million trying to control the flames this year, and it's only August. As such, 2015 is on track to become the 15th year in a row the agency has laid out roughly $1 billion on firefighting alone. Expenses in some areas are equal to or greater than the value of the threatened property - $200,000 to $400,000 per home, according to Bozeman (Mont.) - based Headwaters Economics. Yet the Forest Service doesn't have much choice: It can't just let communities burn. So the service and its partner agencies keep putting out the flames, even though years of study have shown that doing so only leads to even hotter, more devastating fires later."