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Cost of fighting fires increased 16-percent since 1995

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says changes need to be made to the way the Forest Service pays for fighting wildfires across the country.
   
Vilsack talked to reporters Wednesday and said the cost of firefighting has increased from 16 percent of the Forest Service's budget in 1995, up to 42 percent of the budget today.
   
Vilsack says the Forest Service has had to borrow money six out of the last ten years to pay for firefighting including up to $400–million this year.
  
He says that doesn't leave enough money for fire prevention, and says spending money there makes more sense.
   
Vilsack proposed fighting 98–percent of fires through the regular Forest Service budget but says some major fires should be treated just like other natural disasters.
 
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People : Tom Vilsack
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