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Western Wildfire Recovery Likely To Take Years

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Aerial footage shows a wildfire in Cajon Pass near Victorville slowly advancing on Interstate 15.

Aerial footage shows a wildfire in Cajon Pass near Victorville slowly advancing on Interstate 15.

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DENVER (AP) — Wildfires across the West are burning homes, businesses, highways and other infrastructure necessary for everyday life — and the disaster isn’t over when the wildfire is snuffed out and the firefighters go home.

Experts say recovery can take years and untold millions of dollars simply to make conditions livable again. In Colorado alone, insurers estimate that wildfires have caused some $450 million in damage to personal property, and that number is expected to grow.

Nationally, the U.S. Forest Service is on track for another possible record with nearly $28 million spent so far on burned-area recovery work. The agency spent a record $48 million last year.

USDA Undersecretary Harris Sherman says everyone needs to be aware of the fact that the landscape doesn’t restore overnight, and wildfires have long-term implications.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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