Wyoming Fires Burn As US Forest Service Moves Into PL5

Wyoming Fires Burn As US Forest Service Moves Into PL5

Written by on August 9, 2021

As wildfires stretch federal resources and personnel to their limits, the U.S. Forest Service moves into PL5 – with potentially dire consequences for Wyoming.

Considering the massive wildfires burning in Wyoming and throughout the United States, the U.S. Forest Service made a sobering announcement. As of last week, the agency has entered Preparedness Level 5 when it comes to wildfire prevention.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, preparedness levels are on a scale, with 5 being the highest.

Preparedness Level 5 means several large, intense wildfires are burning throughout the country. In fact, there are so many large fires that they can exhaust wildland firefighting resources.

PL5 means:

  • 38-85 large wildland fires are occurring across the country
  • 31-38 incident management teams are mobilized
  • 14,000-20,000+ wildland fire suppression personnel are working on incidents
  • 80% or more of the country’s incident management teams and wildland firefighting crews are deployed to incidents
  • Every single fire-qualified federal employee is made available for wildfire response
Crater Ridge Fire 08-08-21

Courtesy InciWeb

This serious situation means any future fires in Wyoming might be even larger and more devastating – and the U.S. Forest Service will be unable to give it the resources required.

On Sunday, August 8, there are three active wildfires on U.S. Forest Service land in Wyoming. Thankfully, the majority are small and mostly contained.

The Soda Lake Fire has been burning in Bridger-Teton National Forest since July 27. However, the fire has stayed small – 97 acres and 90% contained – thanks to rainfall and quick action.

Meanwhile, the Shale Creek Fire – also in Bridger-Teton near Kemmerer – has been 100% contained to 189 acres. Neither fires are receiving active updates on InciWeb – a sign they are no longer of much concern to the U.S. Forest Service.

Then there’s the Crater Ridge Fire in Bighorn National Forest. Since first igniting on July 17, the fire has grown to 1,258 acres. Thankfully, a full suppression strategy is progressing, as the Crater Ridge Fire is now 20% contained.

Elsewhere in Wyoming, several fires have ignited on state and private land. Some of these fires are several thousand acres in size with the potential to grow even larger.

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