While the U.S. Department of Agriculture's fire budget stands at more than $2 billion this year, Tidwell said residents need to do their part. The majority of fires across the country are caused by people, he said.
Tidwell spoke in Tijeras, a mountain community just east of Albuquerque. The mountainside behind him was covered by a dense grove of pinon and juniper trees with some 25,000 homes tucked here and there. He spent part of Thursday touring the area.
"If we can prevent just a few of those human-caused fires, it often will result in one less large fire from occurring," he said.
Follow Susan Montoya Bryan on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/susanmbryanNM
Associated Press Writer Ramit Plushnick-Masti in Houston contributed to this report.