Nightly News | May 19, 2012
>>> tonight there are ominous signs in the southwest that this could be one of the most active wildfire seasons on record. right now crews are working to contain fires across seven states, and this week scientists warn that dry, dangerous conditions are likely to get worse this summer. we get our report tonight from nbc's mike tiabi.
>> reporter: as the flames move closer to small mining towns, hundreds of residents gathered what they could before evacuating.
>> i come down and saw those flames on the side of the mountain. that was like am i going to make it or not?
>> reporter: so far all have made it to safety, but this is the start of a dangerous wildfire season. right now out west there are ten active fires, including three that are huge and especially dangerous. two in arizona, and one in colorado north of fort collins where more than 500 firefighters are only halfway to containing the blaze.
>> our trees are very dry, and our relative humidities are low. you know, i knew that it was growing.
>> reporter: there are similar frustrations for those in the path of arizona's gladiator fire that between thursday and friday night more than doubled in size to more than 14,000 acres. containment just 10%. like much of the country, the west and southwest hardly had any winter. little precipitation and the warmest average temperatures for more than a century and more of the same in the noaa summer forecast.
>> we're already in a drought. when you have that combined with the heat in the forecast, that can make a bad situation even worse .
>> reporter: so there will be more scenes like these from the gladiator fire. people fleeing with whatever is important before the advance of one fire after another.
>> i stayed as long as i could, and now i just hope for the best.
>> reporter: the best would be a season of soaking rains and cooler temperatures, which are not at present in the future. mike taibi, nbc news, los