Posted: Jul 3, 2013 6:24 AM by Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) - This year's across-the-board budget cuts mean that federal wildfire fighting efforts are losing millions of dollars, even as many officials say the prolonged Western drought means this could be a busy year for battling such blazes.
The U.S. Forest Service's $2 billion-a-year firefighting budget - the government's biggest - has been cut by 5 percent. Agency officials say that has meant 500 fewer firefighters and 50 fewer fire engines than last year.
The Interior Department's $37.5 million reduction has meant 100 fewer seasonal firefighter jobs. Department officials say some are being hired for shorter time periods to save money.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told Congress last month that the cuts are reducing the government's ability to respond to wildfires.
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