Sequester not yet affecting govt fire response

AP News
Posted: Jul 11, 2013 4:47 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Obama administration officials say the automatic budget cuts called "sequestration" have not yet affected the government's ability to fight wildfires.

The Agriculture Department's Jim Hubbard and the Interior Department's James Douglas told a House subcommittee Thursday that the cuts reduced the seasonal workforce and administrative expenses like travel and supplies.

But they warn that sequestration could jeopardize prevention efforts and preparedness in the future.

Their comments come as the cuts take fuller effect on federal government agencies, and just 11 days after 19 firefighters died in Arizona while trying to protect the town of Yarnell.

Douglas also warns that other reductions will mean that fewer dispatchers can be trained to fight fires.