Firefighters Stretched Thin as Blazes Ignite Across West

America's firefighters are stretched dangerously thin as they battle nine new big wildfires across the West, a firefighting agency said Wednesday. The National Interagency Coordination Center said the network's preparedness is now at Level 5 — the highest on a 1-to-5 scale, indicating a strong potential for exhausting all national fire resources. This is the fifth time the agency, which coordinates firefighting agencies from the local to the national level, has reached Level 5 in the past decade — but it's only the first since 2008. This year, federal agencies have spent more than $1 billion battling the 33,000 blazes that have burned so far, and on Wednesday, the nine new large fires reported brought the current number of unconfined fires nationwide to 51 — with some of the worst and most recent coming in Montana and Idaho and near Yosemite National Park in California.

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