As wildfires consume several thousand acres in the southwest, U.S. Forest Service Chief, Tom Tidwell notes, "So far the 2011 fire season has been relatively severe. More than 4 million acres have burned across the country, which is more than twice the to-date 10 year average. Parts of the south and southwest are in a prolonged drought. Most of the large fires have burned in the southeast, Texas , Oklahoma, Arizona and New Mexico and we also have some large fires in Alaska."

Tidwell testified Tuesday at a Senate Natural Resource Committee meeting on wildfire management programs.

"We have the same level of preparedness that was available last year, including more than 16 thousand federal firefighters with about 70 percent of those from the forest service."

And while there is record snow pack in the northern half of the west, Chief Tidwell says the severity of this year's wild fire season remains to be seen, but based on projections for the rest of the year suppression funding should be sufficient.

In the meantime the massive wildfire burning in eastern Arizona could become the largest in that state's history.  And in southern Colorado, fire crews are attacking a wildfire burning on about 1800 acres in dry windy conditions that broke out last Sunday.