Fourmile is far from Colorado's costliest blaze, according to statistics contained in "The True Cost of Wildfire in the Western U.S.," a report by the Western Forestry Leadership Coalition originally published in 2009 and updated this past April. Check out this graphic containing facts and figures for two pricey 2002 Colorado conflagrations, the Hayman fire and the Missionary Ridge fire, in the middle of the chart:As you can see, suppression cost represented only 20 percent and 25 percent, respectively, of the total for each of these fires. Using those figures, Fourmile's total could well be between $38 million and $47 million if the ticker stopped at approximately $9.5 million.
Which it won't. As Heule points out, there remain 536 firefighters and the like assigned to Fourmile. That number will diminish today and throughout the next several days, with the hope that the feds can formally hand over the site to local authorities by week's end. In the meantime, though, a great many chores need to be accomplished.
"We've opened up some more areas to residents, and utilities are in there working hard," notes Heule. "But we still have some concerns about unburned fuels and hot spots inside, and we still have lots more work to do with the rehab portion of the fire."