Under Covid-19 safety procedures, California fire officials tell CNN they will reduce the size of usually bustling base camps — where hundreds of engines from city, state and federal agencies gather under mutual aid agreements to fight major blazes.
“For every large wildfire we build a base camp, our own mini city, so it’s a large quantity of personnel in tight quarters,” said Captain Erik Scott of the Los Angeles Fire Department. “It’s a potential breeding ground for the coronavirus.”
It’s not uncommon to see 100 firefighters walk through a food line in twenty minutes at the base camps. Given the confined spaces, Cal Fire Battalion Chief Lucas Spelman says his agency will stagger meal times and hand firefighters packed lunches.
“I always like to think of us as like caterers,” Spelman said. “That’s how we kind of eat, kind of that buffet style. And so as we go through there, obviously we need to keep our distance.”
Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen says he is equipped to send strike teams — five three-person engines and two managers — to wildland fires throughout California without relying on a base camp.
“We’ll find a place to remotely camp,” Lorenzen said. “We’ll send a chase vehicle to help with supplies including food.”
California fire officials say Covid-19 will not drastically change how they douse flames, though they say they will depend more heavily on fighting fires with aircraft. Drones will be used to make observations, they…