Story at a glance

  • The National Interagency Fire Center raised its Nation Preparedness Level to 5, the highest and most critical level, reflecting the severity of fires scorching the West.
  • More than a dozen states are combating major fires, with some evacuation orders being issued.
  • There are currently 71 recorded active wildfire incidents in the U.S.

Following the record-breaking hot temperatures, wildfires continue to plague 12 heat-ravaged states, prompting the deployment of roughly 16,650 firefighters nationwide to combat the flames that have scorched over one million acres.

This data comes from the National Interagency Fire Center, which elevated the National Fire Preparedness Level to 5 on Wednesday due to “significant fire activity occurring in multiple geographical areas, an increase in incident management team mobilization, and heavy shared resources commitment to large fires nationally.”

The National Fire Preparedness Levels have not reached level 5 this early in the year since 2008. The fires are considered a result of the long-standing hot and dry weather, exacerbated by preexisting droughts and an anomalous heat wave that sent temperatures in the Pacific Northwest soaring.


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Some of the states still dealing with large fire incidents include Alaska, California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Overall, there are 71 active fires, three of which have been contained.

Communities in Washington, California and Oregon have issued evacuation orders as separate fires continue to grow. State leadership is working to deploy emergency response teams to aid affected communities and bring larger fires to a halt.

 

 

Two weeks ago, President Biden addressed the western heat wave and burgeoning wildfire crisis alongside California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), who has overseen a drought crisis in the state for the past months.

“The truth is we’re playing catch up. This is an area that has been under-resourced, but that’s going to change, if we have anything to do with it,” Biden said. “We can’t cut corners when it comes to managing our wildfires or supporting our firefighters.”


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Published on Jul 15, 2021