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Fire warning in effect for D.C. area until 8 p.m.

Monday - 4/9/2012, 3:14pm  ET

WASHINGTON - The D.C. area will be under a Red Flag Warning for the third straight day on Monday.

The National Weather Service is warning that conditions could create "explosive fire growth potential," and asks the public to be extremely careful with fire.

The warning is in effect from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

ABC 7 Forecaster Ron Riley says it's earlier than usual for this type of warning.

"Since the beginning of the year we've had only three days where we've had a half-inch or more of rain," says Riley.

He adds that the area is currently 4 inches below the average.

The warm, dry winter has produced the potential for forest fires earlier than usual.

An 18-acre wildfire broke out east of Baltimore in Harford County early Sunday. Dozens of homes were evacuated.

The four-alarm fire stopped spreading by Sunday evening but wasn't yet under control.

In Virginia, the low humidity and higher winds are fueling brush fires. Wildfires are burning hundreds of acres of national forest land in five counties.

WTOP's Hank Silverberg and Kathy Stewart contributed to this report. Follow Hank and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)