updated 12/19/2006 9:57:07 AM ET 2006-12-19T14:57:07

As rescue efforts continue on Mount Hood, so do the costs.

The Hood River County Sheriff’s Office, one of the main agencies spearheading the search for the three climbers, estimates it spent roughly $5,000 a day for the first three days and about $6,500 a day after that.

But that’s only part of what will be become the final price tag, in part because much of it is being done by volunteers and the military, which in the past has tagged such missions as training.

“There is no way of answering these things,” said Georges Kleinbaum, state search and rescue coordinator for Oregon. “Obviously there is a lot of money being expended, but there is never a bill to look at.”

Kleinbaum did say that Black Hawk helicopters are estimated to cost $2,800 an hour to operate. At least two Black Hawks and a Nevada Air National Guard C-130 transport have been repeatedly used in the search.

Maj. James Wilson, spokesman for the Air Force Reserve speaking on behalf of the military effort, said the costs for the joint military have not been calculated.

The search for climbers Kelly James, 48, of Dallas; Brian Hall, 37, of Dallas; and Jerry “Nikko” Cooke, 36, of New York, started Dec. 11. On Monday, James’ body was found.

Oregon law does not require victims to pay for rescue efforts unless they were negligent and failed to take basic steps to keep themselves safe, Kleinbaum said. And in those cases, costs are limited to $500 per person. Other costs are absorbed by the state and local agencies involved.

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