National Wildfire Preparedness
Moves to Highest Level
Boise, Idaho - The National
Multi-Agency Coordinating Group (NMAC)
is increasing the National
Fire Preparedness Level (PL)
to its highest point, PL-5, effective at 5:30 A.M. Mountain Daylight
Time on Thursday, August 13th. The PL ranges from one, indicating minimal
activity, to five, which signals very high activity.
NMAC, which consists of top federal
and state fire managers, sets the national PL. The raised preparedness level
reflects a high degree of wildfire activity, a major commitment of fire
resources, and the probability that severe conditions will continue for at
least a few days.
“A significant amount of initial and
extended attack and large fire
activity has occurred over the past several days as a result of lightning
storms that have intensified local and geographic response,” said Aitor
Bidaburu, Chair of NMAC.
Bidaburu continued, “Given the continuing hot and dry weather
and the increase in fire activity in the western U.S., the decision to move to Preparedness Level 5, depicts the complexity that fire
managers are encountering to assure that adequate firefighting resources are
available for protection of life, property and our nation’s natural
During periods of high wildfire
activity, when assets are stretched thin, federal, tribal, state and local
partners work together to prioritize wildfires so that those threatening life,
property and valuable natural and cultural resources receive assets as quickly
as possible. Professional wildfire managers adapt their strategies and tactics
based on the assets that they receive and do the very best they can to suppress
unwanted wildfires effectively and efficiently.
Wildfire activity has escalated in
recent days after thunderstorms, many with little or no moisture, moved across
parts of California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana, sparking hundreds
of new fires. To date, 39,254 wildfires have burned nearly 6.4 million acres in
the United States this year. The number of wildfires in 2015 represents about
80 percent of the ten-year average. However, the number of current acres burned
represents about a 38 percent increase over the ten-year average at this point
in the year.
The last time that the National Preparedness Level was raised to 5 was on August 20,
2013. The National Preparedness Level remained at 5 for 7 days until it
was dropped to 4 on August 26, 2013. This is the fifth time that PL-5 has been
reached in the last ten years.
During PL-5, further assistance from
the military, beyond what is already in use, and international resources may be
considered and requested, but no decisions have been made concerning those steps.
The fire forecast for most of the
West predicts above normal temperatures, below normal precipitation, and
continuing drought in many areas into the fall.