(AP) - The nation's primary wildfire-fighters are getting ready for the 2016 season, which is expected to be worse than average in Hawaii, Alaska and the Southwest.
U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will meet with regional forest officials Tuesday to discuss plans and preparations. The Forest Service is part of the Agriculture Department.
Last year, wildfires burned a record 15,800 square miles nationwide. Seven Forest Service firefighters died.
Forecasters said earlier this month the potential for significant fires this season will be average or below-average in most of the nation, but dry conditions could make thing worse in some regions.
The Forest Service spent more than $1.7 billion on firefighting last summer. Officials say fires are eating up a growing share of the agency's overall budget.