While the number of wildfires around the country goes up every year, the amount of money the federal government is shelling out to fight those fires is getting cut by a lot.

The head of the U.S. Forest Service, Chief Tom Tidwell, was in Albuquerque Tuesday and flew over the Gila National Forest to catch a glimpse of the Whitewater Baldy Complex Fire.

Tidwell says with the fires in the state, and an active fire season around the county, the Forest Service budget to pay firefighters will run out this summer. A picture from NASA of the smoke from space shows just how immense it is.

“What I took home from that flight is the size of this fire, but also just how rugged the terrain is,” said Tidwell. Crews have been fighting the flames for three weeks, and Tidwell thinks it’s going to take at least another month to put out.  Fire bosses are reporting about 1,100 people assigned to the blaze.

Most of the money to fight the fire from the ground and the air comes from federal funding. The Forest Service is worried because over the past two years Congress has slashed funding for wildfire suppression and prevention by $500 million, a 15% cut.

From KRQE News: http://www.krqe.com/dpp/news/local/central/federal-firefighting-money-could-go-dry