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Sen. Udall Upset Senate Shot Down Wildfire Funding

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

GALLERIES: COLORADO'S WORST WILDFIRES

DENVER (CBS4) – This past year was one of our worst wildfire seasons on record in Colorado. Even so, the U.S. Senate voted against a plan providing half a billion dollars in wildfire funding and Colorado Sen. Mark Udall isn’t pleased.

There were 346 homes destroyed in the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs, and another 259 homes burned to the ground in the High Park Fire west of Fort Collins in 2012.

“I’m certainly hopeful 2013 won’t be as hazardous as forecast,” Udall told CBS4.

However, the ounce of prevention for a pound of cure that Udall wanted remains in Washington. Udall just lost a budget battle for $653 million to pay for fighting wildfires and preventing them from spreading.

“If we’d gotten those monies into the budget then we could’ve had a running start in preparing for next year’s wildfire season,” he said. “If you think about it, they threaten entire communities and I’m concerned the Senate turned a blind eye to what are predictable disaster needs.”

The money Udall wanted would’ve paid for fire mitigation such as cutting brush that fuels the fires. Equipment would’ve been bought and training would’ve been given to firefighters, but not now after Friday’s vote against fully funding the Forest Service’s wildland fire account.

“This does not come without a cost. That is the fires we had last year were so expensive to fight that we’re tapping into those funds in advance of next year’s wildfire season.”

Udall did say Air Force will make some C-130s available. They can be converted from carrying troops to carrying fire retardant.

Wildfire Resources

- Visit CBSDenver.com’s Wildfire Resources section.

- Read recent Wildfire stories.

Wildfire Photo Galleries

- See images from the most destructive wildfires (Waldo Canyon, High Park and Fourmile) and largest wildfire (Hayman) in Colorado history.

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