US wildfire costs hit record $2.3 billion; season isn’t over

FILE- In this Sept. 5, 2017, file photo, a wildfire burns through residential areas near the mouth of Weber Canyon near Ogden, Utah. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is directing all land managers and park superintendents to be more aggressive in cutting down small trees and underbrush to prevent wildfires. In a memo on Tuesday, Sept. 12, Zinke said the Trump administration will take a new approach and work proactively to prevent fires “through aggressive and scientific fuels reduction management” to save lives, homes and wildlife habitat. (Benjamin Zack/Standard-Examiner via AP, File)

DENVER (AP) — The U.S. government says it has already spent a record $2.3 billion fighting wildfires this year, and 64 major fires are still burning in 10 states.

The Forest Service, the nation’s primary firefighting agency, said Thursday it has spent more than $2 billion, and the Interior Department says it has spent $345 million.

The previous record for combined federal firefighting costs was $2.1 billion in 2015.

Hot, dry weather across the Western U.S. has led to one of the worst fire seasons in a decade, and some climate scientists say global warming is partly to blame.

So far this year, U.S. fires have blackened more than 13,000 square miles (34,000 square kilometers). That’s the fourth-highest in a decade, and big fires could burn for several more weeks.