Congress eyes money for wildfire prevention

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by Dave Cassidy, 13News

WVEC.com

Posted on July 2, 2013 at 6:38 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 2 at 7:00 AM

PRESCOTT, Ariz. -- President Barack Obama is promising Arizona's governor the necessary federal support to battle the fast-moving wildfire that killed 19 firefighters.  

The blaze has spread to 13 square miles, destroying 50 homes and threatening 200 more in the town of Yarnell.

At a Monday memorial for the firefighters, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer called it "as dark a day as I can remember.

We'll hear more calls in Congress this month to spend more money to prevent wildfires.

Four senators urged President Obama to rethink the idea of cutting wildfire prevention funds by another 30 percent next year. They did that last week before the Arizona firefighters were killed.

The government spends more money now fighting wildfires and less money trying to prevent them, to include clearing brush, which almost guarantees the fires will get worse.

Eight of the nine worst wildfire seasons have occurred in the last 12 years. One reason is that since the 1990s more than 15 million new homes have been built in dangerous fire zones.

It's a tougher battle now because of long drought, high temperatures, and the brush fueling fires. The result is - the Forest Service will treat one million fewer acres than last year.

Supporters of more money on prevention efforts would help the economy by creating jobs because you'd need to hire people to go in and help clear the brush. They also say the money would be saved in the long run because firefighters could get a handle on the wildfires sooner and so you'd have less property damage.

Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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