N.W. wildfire season may be late, fierce

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BOISE, Idaho -- Rain and cooler temperatures mean the wildfire season in Oregon, Idaho, Washington and Montana will start later than predicted, officials with the National Interagency Fire Center said Saturday.

But wildfire analyst Jeremy Sullens said the weather wasn't wet enough to change what is expected to be a challenging fire season."Recent precipitation across much of the West has delayed fire season by only a couple of weeks," he said. "However, the rain has not been enough to alleviate drought conditions or moisten the heavier fuels."

That means an above-normal fire potential is likely to develop in those states.

After automatic budget cuts mandated by Congress, the U.S. Forest Service alone will hire 500 fewer firefighters and deploy 50 fewer engines this season.

Congress cut the Forest Service and Agriculture Department budgets 5 percent under the sequester, then added another 2.5 percent cut for fiscal 2013.