Wildfire Preparedness Level moves to highest designation
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska Interagency Coordination Center reports that the Preparedness Level is increasing from Level 4 to Level 5 Thursday morning.
According to a press release issued by the Multi-Agency Coordination Group, the measure will increase to its highest level Thursday at 7 a.m.
“Preparedness Level 5 (PL5) is assigned when large fires that require incident management teams are occurring in several areas simultaneously and is the highest level identified in the Alaska Preparedness Plan,” the release said. “PL5 status means most of the initial and extended attack resources are committed to new and existing fires.”
There were 10 new fires that started Wednesday, according to the Bureau of Land Management’s Alaska Fire Service. A total of 157 fires are currently active across Alaska out of the 364 that have been reported this year, and over 1.6 million acres have burned so far this season.
The release notes that the Preparedness Level is considered daily and depends on designations including burning conditions, potential for extreme fire behavior, resource availability, predicted weather and the probability of new ignitions.
“Wildland fire is a normal part of Interior and Southwest Alaskan ecosystems but protecting people and property is the top priority,” the release said. “High fire years can result in challenges in obtaining enough fire crews and other resources to commit to the field. PL5 status means more firefighting resources can be committed to Alaska.”
The National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning as well as an Air Quality Advisory for parts of Southwest Alaska due to wildfire smoke. In the Interior, a Dense Smoke Advisory was issued along with a Fire Weather Watch. Nearly all of Southcentral Alaska is under an Air Quality Advisory until Friday afternoon.
Numerous large groups of fires have prompted response from the Interagency Coordination Center, and six fires across Southwest Alaska and the Interior are listed on the incident information system website, including the Lime Complex group of fires which spreads across over 600,000 acres.
More information on wildfire specifics can be found on the Alaska Fire Service website.
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