Price tag for fighting Utah wildfires up to $50M

- SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - State officials say it's cost $50 million to fight wildfires in Utah this season, and that number is expected to keep climbing.

Department of Natural Resources chief Michael Styler told lawmakers Tuesday that more than 1,000 fires have sparked and burned more than 400,000 acres. That's while Utah's only two-thirds of the way through fire season.

Styler says the federal government will be covering $34 million of the firefighting costs, leaving the state's bill at about $16 million so far.

He says the silver lining of the aggressive fire season is that invasive cheatgrass and other flammable plants are being cleared out, which allows state officials to replant native and fire-resistant plants.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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