In a time of global pandemic, this summer's fire season - which is nearly upon us - poses new dire threats. Federal and state agencies have resurrected the obsolete policy of aggressively attacking all wildfires in all places in order to limit wildfire smoke. This fire policy from the 1930s was abandoned decades ago, because it is ecologically harmful, economically unsustainable, and puts firefighters at unnecessary extra peril. The risk of the pandemic threatens crews with new dangers. An internal study by United States Forest Service scientists has determined that in a worst case scenario up to 10% of wildland firefighters could die this summer, with the number of deaths due to Covid-19 surpassing all other causes of firefighter fatalities.
On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with Timothy Ingasbee, Executive Director of Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics, and Ecology, about how the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will play out with particular cruelty for wildland firefighters and how potential major pandemic disasters sweeping through fire camps, could ultimately leave rural residents on their own.