Posted: Mon, May 21 2012 at 8:12 AM, Updated: Mon, May 21 2012 at 9:51 AM
There are ominous signs in America's southwest that this could be one of the most active and dangerous wildfire seasons on record.
Right now firefighters are working to contain three stubborn fires in Arizona and Colorado.
Fires feeding off terrain and weather conditions not likely to improve in the months ahead.
As the flames moved closer to several small mining towns in central Arizona, hundreds of residents gathered what they could before evacuating.
"When I was coming down and saw those flames on the side of the mountain that was like, am i going to make it or not," said Ray Calderon.
So far, all have made it to safety, but this is the start of a dangerous wildfire season.
Right now out west there are 10 active fires including three that are huge and especially dangerous.
Two in Arizona and one in Colorado, north of Ft. Collins.
"Our trees are very dry. And our relative humidity is low," said Jackie Parks, a memeber US Forest Service.
Here are similar frustrations for those in the path of Arizona's Gladiator fire which between Thursday and Friday night more than doubled in size to more than 14,000 acres. Containment is at just 10%.
Like much of the country, the west and southwest hardly had any winter, little precipitation and the warmest average temperatures in more than a century. And more of the same in the NOAA summer forecast.