Federal Officials Predict ‘Challenging’ Fire Season
Officials with the U.S. Department of the Interior and Department of Agriculture say the upcoming fire season could be a difficult one, especially along the Pacific Coast and Southwest ranging into parts of Idaho and Southwest Montana.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the situation could be made more difficult because of budget issues. He says last year 9.3 million acres were exposed to fire, the highest total in the U.S. since 1960. He says drought conditions which were prevalent in 2012 have continued into this year in many areas, including parts California which have received only about 25 percent of their normal precipitation this year.
Vilsack says because of sequestration cuts the U..S. Forest Service will have about 500 fewer firefighters and roughly 50 fewer engines available to fight fires than would have otherwise been the case. But Vilsack says by the height of the fire season about 13,000 firefighters should be available, with about 1000 engines on hand.