Nightly News   |  September 08, 2013

California’s wildfire burns through funds

It’s the third largest wildfire in the state’s history. So far it has cost $89 million, but that price tag could multiple by 30 by the time authorities completely extinguish the blaze. NBC’s Michelle Franzen reports.

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>>> now on to other news, including the latest on the huge wildfire still burning in california. near yosemite national park . an army of firefighters remains on the front lines and the costs of battling it and the damage are soaring. a report tonight from nbc's michelle franzen .

>> thousands of firefighters are still battling california's third largest wildfire in history. while the rim fire near yosemite national park is 80% contained tonight, the cost of battling the blaze remains out of control. so far, more than $89 million. a tab experts say that could be tens of millions more beyond extinguishing the fire. today, a first look by the federal team in charge of assessing and repairing the damage.

>> we're concerned about the infrastructure. on the national forests , the campgrounds, our roads, this stacks up as one of the worst.

>> the blaze has already charred nearly 400 square miles . an area larger than new york city . the fire was sparked by a hunter's illegal fire, investigators say, in the stanislaus national fire on august 17th . the towering flames fuelled by hot weather and overgrown brush, threatened more than 2,000 structures and came within two miles of a nearby reservoir. triggering a state of emergency for the san francisco bay area 's water supply. there are 21 active fires in eight states. with more expected as we enter the peak wildfire season.

>> the weather pattern across western united states is likely to remain warmer and drier than average for the next several months, well into fall. and that's not going to help the firefighting efforts.

>> along with the threat of more fires, environmental crews will be racing to shore up the burned slopes before the start of the rainy season . michelle franzen , nbc news, new york.