Last year was one of the busiest seasons on record for first responders battling forest fires. Blazes burned more than 9.3 million acres of public and private land in 2012, and experts are anticipating that this year might be even worse, USA Today reports.
The dire warnings have sprung up for a number of reasons. Chiefly, many of the regions that were hardest hit by forest fires last year are still in the midst of especially dry conditions. Not only that, but budget cuts caused by sequestration have reduced the number of firefighters the U.S. Forest Service can employ to combat the expected blazes. While officials can take steps to reduce the impact of the cuts, they still pose a challenge.
"There isn't anyone that can do it alone, and when we see further cuts in the federal end, that is a partner that is not going to be able to come to the table as strong as in the past," James Karels, director of the Florida Forest Service, told the publication. "And that is a concern."
First responders will be impacted in other ways by sequestration as well. Specifically, the Federal Emergency Management Agency may reduce the amount of grant programs given to fire stations around the country.