Washington (AP) - The house overwhelmingly approved a bill that lawmakers say will help control the escalating cost of fighting wildfires.
The vote was 412-3 on Thursday. The bill would establish a separate fund to cover the costs of combating major wildfires such as those that have devastated California and other western states in recent years.
Lawmakers have long complained that the forest service and other federal agencies routinely overspend on wildfires figuring that additional money will be provided if needed.
The wildfire fund would not be part of usual agency budgets and would be used only for emergencies, such as a catastrophic fire.
The bill now goes to the senate.
(COPYRIGHT 2009 BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)