As The West Burns, Federal Officials Might Call In International Or Military Support

Aug 14, 2017

Wildfires are raging across the American West, prompting national fire managers to put the country on the highest alert possible.


It’s been two years since the National Preparedness level has been raised to 5, the most serious level. The heightened notice means that there are so many wildfires that there aren’t enough trucks, tankerss or firefighters to go around. There’s even a catering shortage for large fire camps.

“The last time we were at PL 5 was August in 2015," says Jennifer Smith with the National Interagency Fire Center. "So we didn’t see this level last year but this year due to all of the precipitation last year and the fuel growth, that has all dried out now and is ready to burn.”

Even though Idaho has been relatively lucky so far without any major fires endangering population centers, other states in the region have been struggling to keep up.

“The biggest concerns right now are in Montana, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Northern California.”

Smith says at PL 5, firefighters from Canada or support from the National Guard could be called in, though there’s no word that will happen. But so far, the Canadians have lent the lower 48 some air tankers.

Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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