Oregon may tap into special wildfire insurance policy

Lloyd's of London insurance policy covers next $25 million

A helicopter flies toward the Two Bulls Fire west of Bend, Ore., on Sunday June 8, 2014. (AP Photo/The Bulletin, Joe Kline)
A helicopter flies toward the Two Bulls Fire west of Bend, Ore., on Sunday June 8, 2014. (AP Photo/The Bulletin, Joe Kline)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — The state of Oregon has already spent $20 million of its $45 million large wildfire firefighting fund, state officials said.

Dan Postel, public affairs director for the Oregon Department of Forestry, told KOIN 6 News Friday the money has already been spent on especially large wildfires.

“The state pays part of it (and) forestland owners pay part of it through a statewide fund,” Postel said. “This is a partnership with landowners so that the cost is shared.”

A look at the Two Bulls wildfires from a distance, June 9, 2014. (KOIN 6)
A look at the Two Bulls wildfires from a distance, June 9, 2014. (KOIN 6)

He said the Two Bulls Fire near Bend, Ore. in June is an example of one of the fires that the state considered large and costly.

Postel said the cost of fighting large fires will quickly grow once helicopters, air tankers and contracted 20-person crews are brought in.

“We set up a fire camp that’s like its own city,” Postel said. “The meter begins to run pretty quickly.”

Now that the initial $20 million has been spent, any additional costs will be paid for by a special $25 million insurance policy the state has with Lloyd’s of London.

“It’s a unique resource that gives us some coverage that’s really important in years like this,” Postel said.

In 2013, the state exceeded the total $45 million for large wildfire fighting and turned to the legislature for additional money.

Postel said it is too soon to determine if that will happen again this year, but said officials are always keeping the governor’s office updated.

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