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The Costs and Losses of Wildfires



Douglas S. Thomas, David T. Butry, Stanley W. Gilbert, David H. Webb, Juan F. Fung


This report enumerates all possible costs of wildfire management and wildfire-related losses. It, further, compiles estimates or proposes methods for estimating the costs and losses identified. These estimates can be used for C+NVC modeling, and can also be used to produce an estimate of the ‘economic burden’ of wildfire for the United States. The economic burden represents the impact wildfire has on the U.S. economy. Tracking the economic burden of wildfire could be used to assess return-on-investment into wildfire interventions. The economic burden is decomposed into: 1. intervention costs; 2. prevention/preparedness, mitigation, suppression, and cross-cutting; 2. and into direct and indirect wildfire related (net) losses. The annualized economic burden from wildfire is estimated to be between $71.1 billion to $347.8 billion ($2016 US). Annualized costs are estimated to range from $7.6 billion to $62.8 billion. Annualized losses are estimated to range from $63.5 billion to $285.0 billion.
Special Publication (NIST SP) - 1215
Report Number


fire, wildfire, wildland, cost, loss


Thomas, D. , Butry, D. , Gilbert, S. , Webb, D. and Fung, J. (2017), The Costs and Losses of Wildfires, Special Publication (NIST SP), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed May 26, 2024)


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Created November 2, 2017, Updated November 10, 2018