Associated Press Published

Firefighters Fear Forestry Cutbacks Could Affect Fire Season


Southern West Virginia firefighters are worried about the effects of recent forestry cuts as the forest fire season looms.

The Register-Herald reports that nearly 40 foresters lost their jobs earlier this summer as a result of a $1.7 million budget shortfall for fiscal year 2017.

Chris White, head of fire prevention and suppression for Region 2, which oversees the southern region of the state, says if early indicators of dryness are true, the fire season, which starts Oct. 1, could be devastating.

White says his firefighting team was cut by nearly a third when the Division of Forestry reduced its staffing levels.

During the forest fire season last year, firefighters battled 648 blazes that burned more than 16,700 acres of forest lands, the most acreage burned since 2010.