U.S. Forest Service Short On Firefighting Funds

August 22, 2013

The U.S. Forest Service is running out of money to fight wildfires at the peak of the season. The agency is diverting dollars from other departments to meet firefighting needs.

The Forest Service has spent nearly a billion dollars fighting fires this year which left it with about $50 million available. That’s about enough to pay for a few days of firefighting according to a department spokesman. This happened just as the Forest Service moved into it’s top preparedness level on Tuesday.

The department says there are 51 large uncontained blazes burning across the country, stretching crews and equipment to their limits.

Forest Service chief Thomas Tidwell sent a letter to top officials last week saying other departments in the Forest Service needed to make cuts in their budgets so money could be diverted to the firefighting efforts. The plan is to raise $600 million through the cuts to provide funding through the end of the fiscal year.

Mandatory budget cuts required through sequestration reduced the Forest Service budget by 5 percent this year. That meant about 500 fewer firefighters and 50 engines to fight fires.

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