Coronavirus Overshadows Hot Weather, Wildfire Preparation

A green valley and a blue sky
Joe Little, NBC 7

This is Wildfire Preparedness Week in the State of California.

However, what is usually front-page news has been pushed to the back page by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It does concern me because of everything going on with the COVID situation, we haven’t been able to do the outreach that we usually do,” said Cal Fire Captain Thomas Shoots.

Right now, a lot of the mountains in the eastern parts of San Diego County are covered with pretty green trees, bushes, and grass.

“Don’t let the pretty fool you,” warned Capt. Shoots. “Fire can definitely still run through that.”

Fire tried to run through Jamul Wednesday, but Cal Fire crews were able to beat the small brushfire before it got out of control.  He feared it might not be as easy this summer.

“You look at a month or two down the line, we’re looking at some potential for some large fire activity,” Shoots said. “We’re starting to get to the point of the year where things can get devastating pretty quick.”

“I think of fires,” said Jamie Lafortune. “It makes me real nervous.”

Lafortune owns the Jamul Feed & Supply store. She gets to speak with a lot of the community from behind the counter.

“We’ve talked about how it’s getting dry and it’s a concern,” she said.

Much of San Diego County was mired in a heat advisory this week.  In other years, it would be the perfect week for Cal Fire to conduct its public outreach for wildfire preparation. Coronavirus and the state’s stay-at-home order have hindered those efforts.

At the same time, Capt. Shoots said the stay-at-home order could be a blessing.

“We know that more people are home right now,” he said. “We’d love to see people working on hardening their home.”

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