Recent warm weather, dry conditions and a spate of brush fires on the outskirts of major cities of Arizona and New Mexico are prompting a year-round threat of wildfires.
In the Albuquerque area, Lt. Michael Everett of the Bernalillo County Fire Department said there's been little rain or snow and that everybody need be aware of the early fire threat and very careful.
In Arizona, Rural Metro spokesman Colin Williams said conditions in some places on the outskirts of the Phoenix area resemble the brush-choked area where 19 firefighters perished last year in the Yarnell Hill Fire.
There's also concern in timber country where lower than normal precipitation levels have left forests vulnerable.
The Arizona Insurance Council, a non-profit, said threats to private property in and bordering forested areas have dramatically increased.
"Each year, during Arizona's wildfire season, thousands of homes, businesses and other structures are threatened by wildland fires," said Nicole Farr of the Arizona Insurance Council (AIC). "Including autos, boats and other personal property, the economic losses in 2014 could be millions of dollars."
Arizona Firewise, a cooperative effort of state and federal forest, wildfire and wildlife organizations, recommends the following tips:
Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation) contributed to this report.