While New Mexico has received enough rain to lift some fire restrictions, other parts of the southwest are still dry. That makes them vulnerable to lightning sparked fires, as well as human caused fires.
Humans start about half of the fires in the southwest. In southern California it’s a lot more -- about 90 percent are caused by people. Fire managers say the closer you get to a big city, where the population is dense, the more human caused fires. The top causes are unattended campfires, trash pile burning and arson.
The southwest as a region has the highest number of homeless people in the nation.
A desperate economy and rising temperatures have forced more people who are homeless to take shelter in the cooler national forests, like the San Bernardino in southern California and the Coconino in northern Arizona. Forest officials are concerned -- more people in the woods means more wildfires.
Two summers ago, a homeless man living in the Flagstaff woods sparked a fire that threatened 170 homes.
A wildfire raging out of control in southwestern New Mexico grew by 30 square miles overnight Monday. The massive blaze is on track to become the largest in the state's history.
Whipped by strong winds, the Whitewater Baldy Complex fire is expected to break the record set by last year's devastating Las Conchas wildfire that scorched 244 square miles. It's burned at least a dozen summer cabins and is a long way from containment.
This is the time of year when a puff of smoke on the horizon can raise the hair on the back of your neck. Is it a prescribed burn? Or is it the makings of the state's next massive wildfire? Arizona has experienced two of the largest forest fires in recorded state history in the last decade. And, as Arizona Public Radio's Gillian Ferris Kohl reports, the onset of fire season has a lot of Arizonans on edge.
Flagstaff resident Lisa Skinner grew up in a household of firefighters and has been ready to evacuate her whole life.