Wildfires Subject of Congressional Hearing

Witnesses testify more funding and full time firefighters needed

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by Mike Ford

Wild fires are hitting Alaska and the rest of the country hard this year.
In response to the already active season, U.S. Senator Mark Begich took steps Thursday toward helping those on the front lines.

Begich chaired a hearing Thursday and the focus was to bring together leaders from state, local, and federal levels to assess present capabilities and discuss ways to ensure robust and adaptable fire prevention and response throughout the country.

Experts testified that the $10 million dollars that has been taken out of the federal budget for fighting wild fires should be put back in and consideration should be given for making seasonal firefighters permanent.

Fire fighting veterans said training and regulations should be re-focused to address the growing wildfire concerns across the country. According to testimony given wildfires have burned more that 17 million acres killing more that 300 people nationwide since 2003.