Feds up fire level; could cost resources on ANF

On Aug. 20, the National Interagency Fire Center increased the national fire Preparedness Level (PL) to five, the highest point on the scale.

Even though there are no fires here, that designation will have an effect on the resources and manpower on the Allegheny National Forest.

Acting Deputy Bradford District Ranger Collin Koers explained to the Warren County Council of Governments how that will affect the ANF.

“What that means for the Allegheny, unless you’re work here is critical, if you can go out on fire, we’ll make you available,” she said. “They’ve come and gone. We’ve had about a dozen folks (from the ANF assist) out west.”

Additionally, she noted that the fiscal year for the Forest Service ends on Sept. 30 and explained that any “unobligated funds” will be “funneled to fire suppression out west. (It) affects us in terms of manpower and budget that had not been obligated to this point.”

According to the release, the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group (NMAC) “which consists of top federal and state fire managers, sets the national PL. 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 fire forecast for most of the west show “a general continuation of hot and dry weather into the fall,” according to the NMAC.

To date, 31,986 wildfires have burned 3.4 million acres in the United States this year.

This is the fifth time that PL-5 has been reached in the last ten years.