FARMINGTON — Fighting the Assayii Lake Fire has cost about $2.5 million so far, according to officials.
The figure was announced during a Thursday morning briefing for personnel fighting the fire, and confirmed by Shari Malone, public information officer for the Southwest Area Incident Management Team.
The price tag is an estimate of operational costs for the management team and doesn't include expenditures by the Navajo Nation, Malone said.
"Most of the money is for crews and aircraft that we have been using," Malone said.
The wildfire started last Friday and has burned more than 13,000 acres in the Ch'ooshgai Mountains along the New Mexico and Arizona state line on the Navajo Nation.
The estimate came as firefighters continued to try to contain the blaze.
"We don't have an exact breakdown," Malone said in a phone interview.
According to a Thursday morning press release from Malone, 24 crews are battling the blaze along with 10 helicopters, 27 fire engines, and four bulldozers.
The costs also include the housing and feeding of the crews as well, said Robyn Broyles, fired education specialist with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
"We're paying for the people, accommodations, food and the equipment for the 800 people to work and take care of their safety," she said, "Safety is the No. 1 thing."
The Navajo Nation is currently gathering financial information for resources used, said Jan Mikal Patterson, public information officer for the Navajo Assayii Lake Fire command center.
He said the tribe has multiple divisions involved in the administrative part of the fire fight.
The Navajo Department of Transportation, the Division of Health, Department of Public Safety, Division of Natural Resources and others all have personnel and equipment that have been assigned to assist with the Assayii Lake Fire.
He noted that some of the costs include the operational costs of equipment and that a bulldozer can cost more than $130 an hour to operate depending on the terrain.
The tribe can submit requests for reimbursement of those costs under a federal fire suppression code, Broyles said.
Patterson said the tribe is currently collecting expense reports from Navajo programs and chapters that are using tribal resources to assist with fighting the fire.
The process could a few weeks, he added.
"We are working to gather that information," he said.