Economic decline is fueling a surge of building fires in California town, top firefighter says

  • Source: Victorville Daily Press
  • Published: 07/15/2021 12:00 AM

Buildings are burning in Barstow at an unusually high rate. A chief city firefighter sees decades of economic deterioration and social despair — accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic — as the root cause. Battalion Chief Nick DiNapoli joined the Barstow Fire Protection District nearly 40 years ago and says his team has been stretched thin for much of that time. In 2021, the agency is facing added pressure from an uptick in structure fires: Incidents of residential or commercial buildings burning — a class separate from wildfires, which are also on the rise across the High Desert. Barstow’s fire department has responded to 79 structure fires in the last six months, Acting Fire Chief Sid Hultquist said, “with 14 of them being significant fires that required an extended commitment time.”


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