DISASTERS

US wildfire-fighters making plans for 2016 season

  • FILE - In this Aug. 17, 2015 file photo, timber burns in the First Creek fire near lakeside structures on the western shore of Lake Chelan near Chelan, Wash. 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, May 17, 2016, to discuss plans and preparations.  (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

    FILE - In this Aug. 17, 2015 file photo, timber burns in the First Creek fire near lakeside structures on the western shore of Lake Chelan near Chelan, Wash. 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, May 17, 2016, to discuss plans and preparations. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • File - In this Sept. 15, 2015 file photo, a firefighting plane drops a load of fire retardant over a smoldering hillside, in Middletown, Calif. 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, May 17, 2016, to discuss plans and preparations.  (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

    File - In this Sept. 15, 2015 file photo, a firefighting plane drops a load of fire retardant over a smoldering hillside, in Middletown, Calif. 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, May 17, 2016, to discuss plans and preparations. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • File - In this Sept. 15, 2015 file photo, firefighter Jeff Ohs walks below a scorched hillside and buildings at the Harbin Hot Springs resort, ravaged in a wildfire several days earlier, near Middletown, Calif. The nation's primary wildfire-fighters are getting ready for the 2016 season, which top forest officials say is expected to be worse than average in Hawaii, Alaska and the Southwest. In 2015, wildfires burned a record 15,800 square miles nationwide, with seven Forest Service firefighters losing their lives in the line of duty. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

    File - In this Sept. 15, 2015 file photo, firefighter Jeff Ohs walks below a scorched hillside and buildings at the Harbin Hot Springs resort, ravaged in a wildfire several days earlier, near Middletown, Calif. The nation's primary wildfire-fighters are getting ready for the 2016 season, which top forest officials say is expected to be worse than average in Hawaii, Alaska and the Southwest. In 2015, wildfires burned a record 15,800 square miles nationwide, with seven Forest Service firefighters losing their lives in the line of duty. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)  (The Associated Press)

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.