Wildfires cost Oregon $78 million so far

Wildfires

Press conference set for 1 p.m.

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The total cost of the wildfires in Oregon so far is $78 million, officials announced during a briefing Wednesday afternoon.

Governor Brown held the briefing along with fire officials from different agencies. She said that crews have made significant progress on containing the wildfires, leaving only seven major fires still burning.

“My teams tell me we’ve made significant progress on containing these fires…we are now entering a new phase of this fight,” she said.

She recalled visiting southern Oregon earlier this week, and seeing the devastation in Talent and Phoenix for herself.

“An entire land, homes, and businesses right along the I-5 has quite literally been erased,” she said. She talked about the heroic efforts of firefighters, troopers and National Guard men and women to fight the fires and saves lives.

“I offer my gratitude to each and every Oregonian who put their lives on the line to save others,” she said.

Chief of Fire Protection Doug Grafe said good conditions are coming over the next 72 hours which will be helpful in improving control lines and upping containment.

Grafe said the fires have cost $78 million so far, which could rise up to $100 million by the end of the season. He said FEMA will cover $50 million, but if there is a remainder of $50 million, it would trigger Oregon’s Lloyd’s of London insurance. He said they won’t know until the end of fire season.

Andrew Phelps, Director of Oregon Office of Emergency Management, said FEMA has already given $7 million in aid to Oregonians. He said 4200 people have applied for the aid.

“We’ve never experienced anything like this,” Phelps said.

He confirmed the total death toll so far is nine and five people are still considered missing.

KOIN’s Dan Tilkin asked Governor Brown about whether or not the more could have been done to stop the Beachie Creek Fire from spreading, since it started burning in mid-August.

“I think there were extensive efforts, the conditions were extremely challenging,” she said.

The Lionshead and Beachie Creek fires, largely in Marion and Linn counties, continue to be the 2 biggest wildfires in the state. Combined, they have consumed nearly 400,000 acres of land.

In Clackamas County, the Riverside Fire has devoured more than 138,000 acres, while the Holiday Farm Fire near Springfield has torched more than 170,000 acres.

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