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How Idaho Is Planning For Wildfire Season While The Coronavirus Spreads

Elaine Thompson
AP Images
Firefighters walk past an area of smoke and flames, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2007, while working the Castle Rock Fire in the Warm Springs area of Ketchum, Idaho.


The coronavirus has stopped many things that happen each year: birthdays, weddings and holidays just to name a few. But one thing that doesn’t stop because of a virus is wildfires.

Social distancing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, wildland firefighters must work in teams to douse out flames, which could leave them vulnerable to the virus. 


The Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service are rapidly changing protocols heading into the summer months. 


Special Correspondent to the Idaho Statesman Rocky Barker told Idaho Matters Monday he expects changes that encourage distancing, like smaller camps, less shared transportation, and increased screenings. 


Strategic grouping of firefighting teams could also decrease exposure said Barker. 


“Imagine that they have some fire crews that have tested and found that they had the coronavirus," said Barker. "They might want to use those crews in areas with a huge coronavirus problem." 


The Forest Service and the BLM have put many prescribed burns on hold, which means there may be more fuel during the summer months.


"That could open up the potential for big fires.”


Barker says agencies are still adapting their plans and more developments will come as we hit the hotter summer months. 


As COVID-19 cases spread through the U.S. and Idaho, we’re committed to keeping you updated and informed. You can get updated info on cases, closures and how to stay healthy at any time on our Coronavirus news blog.


Have a question or comment for the show? Tweet @KBSX915 using #IdahoMatters


Member support is what makes local COVID-19 reporting possible. Support this coverage here.

Samantha Wright is a news reporter and producer for Idaho Matters.