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Authorities Up Preparedness Level as Wildfires Rage on Across US

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As 50 large, uncontained wildfires burn across nine states, the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) has raised its preparedness level to five, the highest on the scale.  It's the first time since 2008 that the level has been that high.

"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," the NIFC said in a statement.

One of those wildfires includes the Beaver Creek Fire in Idaho, which has scorched more than 106,000 acres since it was ignited by lightning on Aug. 7.  

The fire, which was 30 percent contained as of Wednesday morning, has threatened thousands of homes, but residents aren't out of the woods yet.  While the forecast calls for a chance of rain over the next few days, that also brings with it the risk of more lightning to the area.

So far this year, the NIFC says 31,986 wildfires have burned 3.4 million acres in the U.S.  That's relatively tame compared to years past, when, on average, nearly six million acres have already burned by this time.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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