Whether it’s violation of law or negligence the state can go after someone who starts a fire for the cost of putting it out. Tom Hoffmann is the Chief of Law Enforcement for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
“The costs of the wages of the firefighters that are working, if we have to set up an incident base where we feed them. And where it really gets expensive is when we start having to use air tankers and helicopters…”
Hoffman says their efforts can include garnishing wages—even making sure any future lottery win is earmarked for reimbursing the state. Amounts sought can vary widely— Hoffman says the state is currently pursuing reimbursement in one case of more than thirty-million dollars.