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A study for the Interior Department found it is more cost-effective to try to prevent fires than to just extinguish them once they erupt.
In a 2010 blaze in Arizona, for example, researchers found that the fire cost about $135 million. They calculated that every dollar spent on basic prevention, such as trimming dead branches and carting out downed trees, could have saved $10 in firefighting costs.
One of the study’s co-authors, Diane Vosick of Northern Arizona University’s Ecological Restoration Institute, likened the removal of old and easily ignitable trees — whether by prescribed burns or mechanical harvesting — to vaccinating people against a deadly disease.
"We know what to do and the investment up front is much easier than the aftermath, which the poor people of Colorado are dealing with right now," Vosick said.
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