Forest Service spends record $2B battling forest fires

FILE - In this Sept. 5, 2017, file photo, the Eagle Creek wildfire burns on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge near Cascade Locks, Ore. Wildfires that have blackened more than thousands of square miles across the American West have also ignited calls, including from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, for thinning of forests that have become so choked with trees that they're at "powder keg levels." (Genna Martin / via AP, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. Forest Service has spent more than $2 billion battling forest fires that are blackening the American West. That's a new record for the agency and marks the first time wildfire spending by the Forest Service has topped $2 billion.

Wildfires have ravaged the West this summer with 64 large fires burning across 10 states as of Thursday, including 21 fires in Montana and 18 in Oregon. In all, 48,607 wildfires have burned nearly 13,000 square miles (33,586 square kilometers) in one of the nation's worst fire seasons.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the severe fire season means officials "end up having to hoard all of the money that is intended for fire prevention, because we're afraid we're going to need it to actually fight fires."