Feb 18, 2014 12:39 PM
Unseasonably warm weather, dry conditions on the ground and a spate of brush fires on the outskirts of major cities of Arizona and New Mexico is prompting warnings that the 2014 wildfire season is already underway in the desert region.
There's also concern in timber country where lower than normal precipitation levels have left forests vulnerable. In the Albuquerque area, "it is starting early and everybody needs to be aware, just be very careful," said Lt. Michael Everett of the Albuquerque-based Bernalillo County Fire Department.
Spokesman Colin Williams of Rural Metro Fire Department said conditions in some outskirts of the Phoenix area resemble the brush-choked area where 19 firefighters perished last year in the Yarnell Hill Fire.