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Full cost accounting of the 2010 Shultz Fire, Flagstaff, Arizona

Do you recall the Schultz Fire of 2010 that ravaged the southeast flank of San Francisco Mountain? The team at NAU’s Ecological Restoration Institute published a 44-p. report detailing the economic impact of this modest-size fire. The ecological and human impact of the  fire lingers on.

Taken directly from the report’s Executive Summary;

“The Schultz Fire of 2010 burned just over 15,000 forested acres and caused the evacuation of hundreds of homes. Heavy floods followed the fire, resulting in extensive damage to property downstream from the charred hillsides. Nearly three years later, seasonal flooding is still a concern and residents continue to live under the threat of swift floodwaters that may carve unanticipated pathways through their sloping neighborhoods.

Official reports form city, county, state, and federal governments have listed response and mitigation costs of the fire and flood at nearly $60 million. This study adds to those costs, exploring the impacts on private property owners, as well as societal costs that are often overlooked when quantifying the full impact of disasters.

Through analysis of Coconino County Assessor’s records, a survey of residents in the fire/flood impact area, and the perceived value of both endangered species habitat and human life, this study conservatively estimates the total impact of the Schultz Fire at between $133 million and $147 million. The major costs and drivers explored are the following:

•             Loss in personal wealth due to reduced property values: $59,353,523

•             Official expenditures of government agencies and utilities: $59,104,394

•             Destruction of habitat: $400,000–$14,200,000

•             Loss of life: $6,000,000

•             Structural damage: $3,097,978

•             Cleanup: $1,825,127

•             Unpaid labor: $1,516,103

•             Armoring against flooding: $823,100

•             Fire evacuation costs: $223,572

•             Flood Insurance Premiums: $198,034”


 Download the 44-page Ecological Restoration Institute/NAU report by Conbrink and others (2013):