RENO, Nev. -- Firefighters in the West are bracing for the worst this summer as sweltering temperatures create ripe conditions for a repeat performance of last year's devastating wildfires.
The firefighting effort so far this year has focused on the Southeast and Florida, where nearly 2,700 wildfires have burned about 204,000 acres.
But fire officials in the West know their turn is coming as they cope with dry conditions and unseasonably high temps that are pushing the region quickly into summer.
"Conditions are actually worse than in 1999 and 2000 when fires devastated the West and Nevada," state Forester Firewarden Steve Robinson said Thursday.
The nation is coming off its worst fire season in a half century. Wildfires blackened about 7 million acres in the United States last year, with the majority of damage occurring in the West. This year, about 600,000 acres have burned across the nation.
Mike Apicello, a spokesman for the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, said wildfires that are raging in Southern states often provide a glimpse of what is to come in other regions.
"What the national fire season usually does is it kind of migrates across the country," he said.
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