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Obama Administration Warns 2015 Wildfires Could be Costly

Wildfire Lights Alachua County Highway
Posted at 4:42 PM, Jun 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-09 16:42:00-04

DENVER (AP) - Despite a wet spring, the Obama administration is warning that this summer's wildfires could drain the federal firefighting budget.

The Agriculture and Interior departments said Tuesday that could force them to transfer money from programs meant to improve long-term forest health.

Federal fire managers say heavy precipitation in May reduced the likelihood of wildfires this month across much of the nation, but the danger will increase from July through September.

The government says federal firefighting costs are expected to range from $810 million to $1.62 billion this year. The high end would exceed the firefighting budget of about $1.4 billion.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell are scheduled to discuss the fire outlook later Tuesday in Denver and argue for a change in the way firefighting is funded.