(Ogden-AP) -- Utah's fire season could be busier -- and earlier -- this year.
Fire specialists with the U-S Bureau of Land Management say eastern and southeastern Utah is particularly vulnerable because large areas of junipers and pinyons have been dying. The snowpack in those areas is also only as much as 42 percent of normal.
And officials say they don't expect conditions to improve throughout the rest of Utah. They say potential for fires in the national forests is also higher this year.
Three major fires have already scorched nearly 19-thousand acres in Arizona and Colorado.
Agency experts predict a long and destructive fire season throughout much of the interior West this year because of drought, warm temperatures and damaged vegetation.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)