(NECN/NBC News: Mike Taibbi, Los Angeles) - As the flames moved closer to several small mining towns in central Arizona, hundreds of residents gathered what they could before evacuating.
"When I was coming down and saw those flames on the side of the mountain that was like, am I going to make it or not..." Resident Ray Calderone said.
So far, all have made it to safety, but this is the start of a dangerous wildfire season. Right now out west there are 10 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 humidity is low so, you know; I knew that it was growing," the U.S. Forest Service's Jackie Parks said.
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-percent.
Like much of the country, the west and southwest hardly had any winter...little precipitation and the warmest average temperatures in more than a century. And more of the same in the summer forecast.
"We're already in a drought in the southwestern United States. When you have that combined with the persistent heat in the forecast, that could make a bad situation even worse," The Weather Channel's Eric Fisher said.
So there will be more scenes like these from the gladiator fire...people fleeing with what's important before the advance of one fire after another.
"I stayed as long as I could and now I just have to hope for the best," one resident said.
The best would be a season of soaking rains and cooler temperatures…which are not, at present, in the forecast.