BLACK FOREST, Colo. - Wildfire managers from the national and state level have raised the national preparedness level to its highest designation for the first time since 2008.
The National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group (NMAC) today increased the national fire Preparedness Level (PL) to its highest point, PL-5.
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 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.
"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," Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.
Black Forest Fire Chief Bob Harvey says his agency is ready to send assistance anywhere if needed.
"We could literally be called and we have to be out the door within two hours of the call," Harvey said.
One truck and a crew of three are available to help, but Harvey says he doubts any resources will be asked to leave our area.
"We are a high threat area within the nation and that's going to remain through the summer," Harvey said. "All that rain that we had so fast that created our flooding situations really didn't do a whole lot to saturate our fuels that are still extremely volatile."
Officials say 31,986 wildfires have burned 3.4 million acres in the United States this year. But both of those figures roughly represent only about 60% of the ten-year average.