DENVER (AP) - A prolonged drought and record-breaking temperatures have many Western states preparing for another active - and dangerous - wildfire season.
In some places, that season is already under way. Colorado had a deadly wildfire last month. Other Western states have reported hundreds of smaller fires.
Officials in California and other states say that grass, brush and forest didn't get the winter soakings that allows them to retain water - and put off fire. That could mean a busy wildfire season that normally doesn't kick in for much of the West until May or June.
Federal meteorologists say nearly all of the Southwest is experiencing drought. And that's coming off a year in which Arizona and New Mexico experienced their worst wildfires on record.
Utah fire officials worry about large swaths of fuel, including waist-high grasses, left over from bountiful rains and snow in 2011 as they prepare for the 2012 wildfire season.
Already, farmers clearing land and fence lines have sparked numerous small fires.
Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands spokesman Jason Curry says they are hoping for more moisture. He says, "Things are dry and it doesn't take much to get a fire going."
In some places, the fire season is already under way. Colorado had a deadly wildfire last month. Other Western states have reported hundreds of smaller fires.
Federal meteorologists say nearly all of the Southwest is experiencing drought.
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