LOS ANGELES — With a vast swath of the West primed for wildfires, federal foresters are preparing for the worst with a budget that might run dry and a fleet of air tankers that in some cases aren’t ready for takeoff.

A combination of extended drought, warming weather and an abundance of withered trees and grasses have created ideal conditions for fire – more than 22 million acres were blackened by wildfires from 2011-2013, primarily across the West.

“It looks like it’s going to be a serious enough season to where we run out of money again,” Tom Harbour, director of fire and aviation management for the U.S. Forest Service, warned in an interview with The Associated Press.

Firefighters battled a blaze in the mountains east of Los Angeles this week, where temperatures neared triple digits. And states from New Mexico through southern Oregon have been left sere by a lack of rain and snow.

But even as fire risk has increased in recent years, the number of large air tankers dropped.

About a decade ago the Forest Service had more than 40 of the big tankers at its disposal – the draft horses of firefighting aircraft that can dump thousands of gallons of flame-snuffing retardant in a single swoop, far more than a helicopter.

According to federal analysts, the fleet hit a low of eight aircraft at one point last year, depleted by age and concerns over the ability of the planes, in some cases flying since the dawn of the Cold War, to stay in the sky.

The core of the fleet was expected to include 17 aircraft for 2014, but seven of those planes aren’t ready to fly.