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COVID hits wildfire fighters even harder than last year

More firefighters appear to be falling ill with COVID-19 and quarantining this year than last year, the officials say, because of the highly contagious delta variant and mixed adherence to COVID-19 safety measures such as masking, vaccinations and social distancing.... Read more»

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As wildfires rage, federal firefighters see bump in minimum hourly pay

Fighting wildfires did not get any easier this month, but it did get a little more profitable for thousands firefighters employed by the federal government as the departments of Agriculture and Interior bumped the minimum wage for federal firefighters up to $15 an hour.... Read more»

Senate-approved infrastructure bill would raise wildland firefighter pay

The sweeping infrastructure bill that the U.S. Senate passed on Tuesday would lay the groundwork for raising federal wildland firefighter pay, one month after Pres. Biden announced one-time raises and bonuses to ensure they earn at least $15 an hour. ... Read more»

Analysis

How years of fighting every wildfire helped fuel the Western megafires of today

Climate change is a big part of why wildfires are getting worse, but active fire suppression contributes to what is often referred to as the wildland fire paradox – the more we prevent fires in the short term, the worse wildfires become when they return.... Read more»

Fires continue to burn in a dry, hot West

Forecasts for high temperatures and precipitation bode ill for the American West, already in the throes of a prolonged drought and attempting to quell hundreds of large wildfires scattered across nine states. ... Read more»

Numerous fires burn even as western U.S. evades widespread devastation

Despite the inordinate number of fires burning across America’s heat-afflicted West, communities have managed to evade death and destruction so far, but experts warn conditions appear conducive to a severe fire season as the summer deepens into fall. ... Read more»

Biden administration snubs Ducey in Western wildfire meeting

Gov. Doug Ducey was one of just three Western governors that the White House didn’t invite to a meeting on wildfires that the Biden administration convened, despite the particularly nasty fire season that Arizona is currently facing.... Read more»

Biden to meet with Western governors about wildfires, vows to raise firefighter pay

President Joe Biden said Tuesday that he will host a meeting next week of Western governors, Cabinet members and Federal Emergency Management Agency officials "to prepare for heat, drought and wildfires in the West."... Read more»

Tucson halts operations at water plant threatened by toxic chemical

City officials said they will indefinitely suspend operations at the Tucson Airport Remediation Project water treatment plant to keep it from being overwhelmed by an underground toxic chemical plume containing high levels of the chemical PFAS that could be moving toward the plant.... Read more»

California lacks federal firefighters as dangerous season looms

Federal wildland firefighter jobs in California are sitting open even as the West heads into what’s likely to be a brutal fire season, and that's not just a problem for California.... Read more»

An inside look at a drive-through COVID vaccine center for health care workers

Hundreds of cars came and went at a steady pace on Dec. 31 through the multiple lanes set up at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. The state has been looking to speed up the rollout of the vaccine and get the 314,000 doses it has received so far into distribution.... Read more»

Burned acreage up sharply, as Arizona 2020 wildfire season winds down

The acreage torched by wildfires in Arizona was up sharply this year, but fire officials said it was still not a particularly bad season in terms of lives lost and structures burned in the blazes.... Read more»

Firefighters prepare for a challenging fire season due to COVID-19

As if fighting fires wasn’t dangerous enough, firefighters now have to worry about COVID-19 while they’re on the job, making for what fire officials say will be the “most challenging season we’re going to have.” ... Read more»

Emergency responders getting little guidance in dealing with coronavirus outbreak

Key direction from the CDC on how to protect emergency responders came after the first American case and the exposure of at least one firefighter. It’s yet another example of a fragmented and halting response at the highest levels of government.... Read more»

Monsoon storms help slow Museum Fire, but raise flood concerns

Although rain has done much to damper the fire, there is a danger of flooding because the loss of vegetation leaves burned areas ripe for flash floods and heavy flows of ash, mud and debris. ... Read more»

'Like the chain saw': Drones have become a lifesaving tool for fighting wildfires

Drones have become a lifesaving tool for fighting wildfires – The whir of aerial drones provided a distinct soundtrack to the month it took to contain the Woodbury Fire, which ranks as the fifth-largest wildfire in Arizona history.... Read more»

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