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“Senators Question U.S. Wildfire Readiness in Wake of Coronavirus”

“Senators pressed federal fire officials to ramp up preparations for a potentially catastrophic wildfire season, amid challenges of protecting firefighters and the public from coronavirus exposure.

“This is going to be a tough year if our predictions are right,” Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said at a hearing Tuesday. “And usually those predictions are not too far off.”

Committee members said they worry that the global pandemic, which has killed more than 110,000 Americans, could impact federal abilities to combat fires as firefighters struggle to protect themselves, their families, and local communities from Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Lawmakers pushed Interior Department and U.S. Forest Service officials to use all resources to monitor wildfires, including satellite data produced by the National Weather Service.”

Alexandra Yetter and Dean Scott report for Bloomberg Environment June 9, 2020.