17. April 2020 · Comments Off on Fighting wildfires in the time of COVID-19 · Categories: Around The Campfire

Washington state is gearing up for a new challenge this year – fighting wildfires in the time of coronavirus.

Fire season is already here, too — 160 fires have sparked so far statewide, with 30% of them in the western part of the state. Thursday, Dept. of Natural Resources crews were fighting two of the largest fires burning near Arlington in Snohomish County, and Acme, in Whatcom County.
“It’s been challenging to fight fire, and to get people trained up this year,” said Jay Guthrie, asst. region manager for Forest Practice and Fire with the Washington Dept. of Natural Resources.
Spring training sessions have moved online, which makes it difficult to do the hands-on learning of firefighting. Prescribed burns were canceled. Crews are also trying to practice social distancing – keeping at least six feet apart while working in the field.
They do have one thing going for them already:
“Part of normal working safety is to keep 10 feet apart, so any swing of a tool is not within range of someone else,” said Guthrie.
State Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz said they’re currently working with the federal government to rewrite the playbook for wildfires during a pandemic.  READ MORE

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