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Wildfire danger escalates with unofficial start of summer

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Officials with the New Mexico State Forestry Division say fire danger around the state remains high.

They're asking residents and visitors to be careful as the unofficial start to the summer vacation season gets under way with the Memorial Day weekend.

State Forestry spokesman Dan Ware says it's extremely dry in many areas and it only takes one careless mistake for a fire to endanger lives and communities.

So far this year, nearly 170 fires have scorched close to 5,800 acres of state and private land around New Mexico.

The high fire danger stems from strong winds, warm temperatures, prolonged drought and heavy fuel loads.

Ware says fire danger is higher along the Middle Rio Grande Valley and the western third of the state.