Amid the Washington COVID-19 outbreak, the state’s wildfire firefighting agencies are quietly gearing up for a season that could be anything but normal.
As of early afternoon on March 18, there were more than 1,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state, and 52 deaths. King County officials are expecting peak hospital demand to come within eight weeks, but the outbreak could continue until a vaccine is developed, which could take months.
This presents a host of problems for wildfire response, said Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) commissioner Hilary Franz. The state will have to figure out how to keep firefighters from getting infected, how to secure enough incident management teams and rethink the way it attacks fires.