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Forest Service heads into ominous wildfire season facing budget strains, tanker troubles

Federal foresters are preparing for an ominous wildfire season with a budget that might run dry and a fleet of air tankers that in some cases aren't ready for takeoff.

A vast swath of the West is primed for fire, with a combination of drought, warmer weather and withered trees and scrub.

The U.S. Forest Service's Tom Harbour tells The Associated Press that conditions are so threatening in so many states the agency could run out of money trying to fight fires.

The agency has been struggling with budget problems for years as the season grows longer and blazes bigger. It is intentionally burning sections of forest to lower the risk.

The core of the agency's large tanker fleet was expected to include 17, but seven aren't ready to fly.

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