COVID-19 will impact wildfire evacuations

Image License<br />Photo: USFS / MGN / CC BY 2.0 License Link
Image License<br />Photo: USFS / MGN / CC BY 2.0 License Link(WEAU)
Published: Jun. 16, 2020 at 7:28 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - As if we didn’t have enough to contend with, the wildfire season is here and we’re going to experience it for the first time during a pandemic. The fires are already here, in greater number in fact than normal. Most have been man-caused. Most small.

The virus forced some agencies to change their training methods and recruit more seasonal personnel, anticipating some may fall sick and be unavailable.

It’s had an impact in another area as well--planning for the fires which may force evacuations.

The basic advice hasn’t changed. If you feel in danger, don’t wait for a first responder to knock on your door. Leave.

But what if a fire forces some from their homes for extended periods of time?

Typically, evacuation centers would be set up. In the age of social distancing that’s not going to work.

“The notion of a high school gym or cafeteria with rows of cots side by side will be replaced,” says Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District spokesman Adam Mayberry. "We’ll partner with the Red Cross and they will look for multiple smaller options,:

A spokesperson at the Red Cross says evacuees may now be directed to an evacuation center, asked to stay in their cars with their families and, if longer-term shelter is needed they’ll be directed to what’s being called non-congregant housing which will likely be motel or hotel rooms.

In any case, the aim will be to keep them sheltered with people with whom they’ve been riding out the pandemic.

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