Coronavirus Plus Wildfire Season Could Spell Disaster
Fourteen firefighters at a single Los Angeles station have tested positive for coronavirus. And, as LAist reports, the state is also short on inmate fire crews.
Due to quarantine and prisoners that have tested positive for COVID-19, the state is substantially down in terms of firefighting hand crews and personnel, [Governor Gavin Newsom] said. These teams prepare the fire line for firefighters. The state corrections department partners with the state on 192 crews — but only 94 are available. The state's conservation corps is also down in total number of crews.
An additional 858 seasonal firefighters are being authorized through October due to this, Newsom said, and six additional crews as part of the California Conservation Corps. Porter said he doesn't expect to get to capacity with its prison hand crews this year.
A large wildfire’s impact on air quality could also exacerbate symptoms and increase risk for complications from COVID-19. Firefighters themselves face distancing challenges.
The convergence of the pandemic and wildfire season could produce a nightmare scenario for California. Read more about how officials are trying to prepare here.