Winter may still have New England coastal states in its icy grip, but farther south, the problem of the season isnt ice its fire. From Virginia down to Florida and around the Gulf to Texas, fire officials are battling spot brush fires and grass fires that seem to crop up as fast as the firefighters can put them out. Virginia Department of Forestry official Fred Turck told the Richmond Times-Dispatch, We are only two weeks into the fire season, and we are already very busy, according to the papers report ( Near-record wildfires hit Virginia, by Rex Springston). More than 4,500 acres of land in the state have been scorched between Saturday, February 20, and Tuesday, February 22, the paper reported. Monday was the second-worst fire day on record in the state, and fire officials said 45 homes or other structures had been damaged or destroyed since Saturday. Firefighters had arrived in time to save 700 buildings, the state fire agency said. Virginias Department of Forestry maintains an information website about wildfire ( Wildfire in Virginia), which includes a one-page visual guide to fire-resistant landscaping around homes sited in wooded areas ( Landscaping for Woodland Homes). Fires also raged across the Carolinas, reported the Charlotte Observer on Tuesday ( Fire threat continues, but winds calmer, by Steve Lyttle). Conditions are especially dangerous along the coast in both Carolinas, where winds averaged 15 to 20 mph Monday with gusts of more than 30 mph, the paper reported. Fire crews in North Carolina were contending on Sunday with more than 100 different fires, adding up to more than 2,500 acres, the paper reported; South Carolina had seen 445 wildfires in February, the state Forestry Commission said. In Florida, parts of Interstate 75 were closed when a controlled burn got out of hand, creating smoke that reduced visibility on the road to unsafe levels, the Bradenton Herald reported ( Interstate 75 in N. Manatee reopened after smoke from wildfire clears, by Richard Dymond). Year to date, according to the Florida Department of Forestry, Florida has seen 824 fires, with 12,785 acres burned.