Firefighters Forced To Social Distance During Pandemic
MIDWAY, Utah – Battling a wildfire includes many challenges such as terrain, weather, and right now, social distancing because of the pandemic.
Extra coordination was underway as crews battled the Saddle Fire near Midway, which included trying to figure how to keep firefighters properly spaced.
Kait Webb with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands said fire managers prepared for this problem.
“We’ve had to do a lot of preseason trainings and gatherings virtually,” Webb said. “We are having to rethink the way that we have our fire camps and our briefings in the mornings, so we’ve been implementing a lot of new protocols.”
Changes were in effect at the fire camp too, like separate areas for tents and more disinfecting, especially at mealtimes.
Each fire crew even has individually assigned port-a-potties.
Responding departments were making sure they do not cross paths while practicing their own form of social distancing as they put down flames.
“It’s been a challenge that we’ve done a lot of planning for it on the front end of the season, and we’re really looking forward to see how that rolls out,” Webb said. “But yeah, it’s presented a challenge, and we’re coming up with unique ways to confront that.”
About a dozen homeowners were still evacuated because of the Saddle Fire, which has burned around 650 acres and was 20% contained as of Wednesday afternoon.
It was the fourth fire in the area in the past week and a juvenile was in custody and talking with investigators about the blazes.
Over 150 people and two helicopter crews were fighting the fire. Officials also reminded the public to not fly drones in the area.
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