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Idaho prepares for wildfire season amid coronavirus pandemic

Firefighting teams and crews will regardless carry out aggressive initial attacks against blazes. But preparing for wildfire season has looked somewhat different.

IDAHO, USA — As the Idaho Department of Lands prepares for yet another wildfire season, the agency says their approach to fighting fires hasn't changed. 

Firefighting teams and crews will regardless carry out aggressive initial attacks against blazes. Preparing for Idaho's wildfire season, however, has looked somewhat different due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"It has added a level of complication to our normal preseason fire preparation," said IDL Fire Bureau Chief Josh Harvey, of COVID-19.

Speaking with KREM in May, Harvey noted that the ongoing pandemic wouldn't necessarily impact the ways firefighters protect people and property, though. 

"Safety is always going to be first and foremost. And our firefighters and the public are our priority," he said.

The novel coronavirus has still created unique situations for IDL crews and firefighters as they prepare to implement social distancing measures amid the pandemic that, as of Tuesday, had sickened over 3,500 people and caused 88 deaths in the state.

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Harvey said that IDL fire base camps could potentially be more spread out this summer and that some fire crews wouldn't come into as close of contact as they traditionally would.

"Crews are going to be separated from each other," he said. "There's going to be more adherence to social distancing, separating tents from each other. Briefings are going to look a little different."

Additionally, some fire camp operations could be stationed remotely instead of on location at camps, Harvey explained.

While traveling to the front lines of a fire, Harvey added that more vehicles could potentially respond to a fire, allowing crews more room to space out inside rigs.

The spread of coronavirus has also created worries that outside agencies from other states could be reluctant to have their firefighters travel and risk contracting the virus. Traditionally, outside agencies and nearby states have helped out IDL in times of need, Harvey said.

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"There is question as to whether or not many of those states and regions that we count on will be letting their resources out of their state and out of their regions," he said.

However, Harvey said that most agencies have indicted that they would be able to assist in the event of severe wildfires.

"It looks positive going forward," said Harvey.

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