updated 4/14/2006 3:55:38 PM ET 2006-04-14T19:55:38

The potential for summer wildfires is normal or above-normal across much of the West, with dry conditions fueling concerns about high-intensity blazes in the Southwest, forecasters say.

The seasonal wildfire outlook through August, released by the National Interagency Fire Center, also predicts higher-than-normal fire potential in the southern Plains, East and Southeast, including along the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast.

“It looks about what we expected,” said Rose Davis, a fire center spokeswoman.

Any fires in the Southwest in May and June could be more intense than usual for that time of year, she said. Conditions in New Mexico and Arizona include a band of extreme drought.

But the length of the fire season in the Southwest could be shortened by monsoons that are expected to be heavier and arrive earlier than usual, she said.

Already this year, wildfires have burned more than 2 million acres, according to agency statistics. Much of that acreage has been in Texas.

Davis expressed confidence in the availability of firefighting resources for this season.

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