National Fire Preparedness Level: 4/5

By Tom Bacon

The combination of hot, dry weather plus lightning-laden thunderstorms over the weekend made wildfire managers nervous enough that they raised the National Preparedness Level to 4 on their scale of one-to-five. With good reason, as it turned out. The National InterAgency Fire Center in Boise cited extreme burning conditions in Idaho, plus a new major fire in Washington touched off by lightning.

The new fire in Washington, called the Milepost 10 Fire, quickly charred upwards of 6-thousand acres near Wenatchee, prompting the state patrol to mobilize resources and to order some mandatory evacuations. It was one of dozens of new fires sparked by lightning in tinder-dry vegetation.

In Idaho, the Pony complex of blazes jumped by 20-thousand acres on Sunday to more than 48-thousand acres. It's burning on federal land about 12 miles northeast of Mountain Home. And the Elk Fire, near Pine Idaho, grew by about 12-thousand acres, driven by heat and gusty wind. It's burning in mountainous terrain that's difficult to traverse.

In all, five major blazes are burning in Idaho; so far, they've blackened nearly 134-thousand acres of timber, brush and grass.
the largest fire of seven major blazes in Oregon had burned through 45-thousand acres. It's called the Douglas Complex and is burning on state-owned land.

Even with the new outbreaks this weekend, wildfire losses so far this year are still running well behind last year. The fire agency in Boise has reported nearly 30-thousand fire across the country which have burned two-point-seven million acres. But at the same time last year, the count was about 40-thousand fires which charred more than 5-million acres.
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