From Cal Fire to local fire districts, looming budget cuts could force a major scale-back in the number of firefighters and resources available, potentially endangering public safety.

With fire season only starting, fire officials said the budget cuts could compromise their ability to battle future wildfires.

The state now faces a $21 billion shortfall in the next fiscal year.

According to state budget officials, Cal Fire now faces a potential reduction of $80 million in state funding. That means cutting more than 600 full-time firefighters and 1,100 seasonal firefighters, as well as the possibility of dozens of stations either closing or scaling back their operations.

Local fire agencies are also expected to feel the pinch. The San Miguel Fire Protection District will soon ask voters to approve a special assessment for property owners amounting to less than $42 a year to cover an estimated $1.7 million budget shortfall.

Under the proposed statewide budget cuts, Governor Schwarzenegger said it may be necessary to close 11 of Cal Fire's conservation camps and 20 single-engine stations throughout California.