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Multiple fires continue to burn across Idaho as fire preparedness level increases

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Photo courtesy Blaine County Sheriff’s Office

IDAHO FALLS (KIVI) – Fires continue to burn across the state and across the country. So far this year, over 49,000 wildfires have burned over 6 million acres across the nation according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Right now in Idaho, over a dozen wildfires continue to burn and officials have elevated the national preparedness level to four out of five.

“Right now there are approximately 14 large fire incidents,” NIFC Public Affairs Specialist Jennifer Myslivy said. “That’s a type 1 or type 2 incident management team managing those fires. Then you have a multitude of type 3 fires throughout Idaho.”

Officials say the levels are based on the dry, windy and hot conditions, on top of extreme fire behavior and resources available. The NIFC says this is the latest the state has ever moved into level 4 in more than a decade.

“It’s just later in the year to see the kind of starts that we’re seeing,” Myslivy said, explaining that fire behavior itself is only average.

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Right now, the biggest fires burning in Idaho are the Moose Fire at 126,000 acres, the Ross Fork Fire at 31,000 acres and the Four Corners Fire at 13,000 acres.

RELATED | Wildfire threatens homes, cabins near Idaho’s Alturas Lake

Fighting these fires comes at a cost. According to NIFC, suppression efforts for the Moose Fire cost $69.5 million, $28.4 for the Four Corners Fire and $3.5 million for the Ross Fork Fire.

“There’s not an average cost because it depends on fire. So it could be a long-duration fire. It could be a short-duration fire. There could be multiple aircraft on that,” Myslivy said.

Allocating resources is another big challenge when it comes to suppressing these fires across multiple states.

“Each fire sends in a request of what their needs are. Do they need type 1 hotshot crews or helicopters or flame retardants? Do we need an actual increase in engine management?” Myslivy said.

A lot of that works through the dispatch center at the NIFC.

“Resource orders and requests come through them and they kind of have a chess game of where resources go and that also works with the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group. They allocate resources to the needs, what’s happening if there are structures that are threatened. They take all of those into consideration.”

Officials want to remind the public to always know before you go if you are traveling toward areas where fires are burning.

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