Western states already in high wildfire danger could see even more challenges because federal cuts cuts have reduced the number of firefighters available, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says.
Jewell said Monday that a dry year is creating the potential for another extreme summer of forest and range fires across the country. Last year was the third worst on record in terms of acreage burned.
Jewell and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack spent the past two days touring the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise.
Vilsack said a 7.5 percent cut to the 2013 Forest Service budget means 500 fewer firefighters on the ground this year.
Even before Monday's visit, fire experts were predicting a grim scenario for this summer's fire season. A dry winter and early warming is creating heightened potential for Arizona, West Coast states, central Idaho, Montana and New Mexico.