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PNS Daily Newscast - August 10, 2020 


The U.S. tops 5 million COVID-19 cases; and the latest on the USPS mail slowdown.


2020Talks - August 10, 2020 


Sunday was the sixth anniversary of the police killing of Michael Brown. Tomorrow, Rep. Ilhan Omar faces off against a primary challenger in MN, plus primaries in CT, VT and WI. And a shakeup at the Postal Service.

NM Crews Prepare to Fight Wildfires Amid COVID-19

Wildfire managers in New Mexico often let wildfires burn, but have determined they will be extinguished as quickly as possible this season. (usda.gov)
Wildfire managers in New Mexico often let wildfires burn, but have determined they will be extinguished as quickly as possible this season. (usda.gov)
May 20, 2020

SANTA FE, N.M. -- It's only May, but fire restrictions already were imposed in New Mexico today, and COVID-19 will add another layer of safety precautions to the firefighting season.

Kaili McCray, who chairs the National Wildfire Coordinating Group's emergency medical committee, said large numbers of firefighters often live together for weeks or months during the fire season, which requires adopting new protocols from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He said firefighters are used to assessing and mitigating risk, but the coronavirus has added another danger to woodland firefighting.

"The difference this year is those mitigations are all new for us," he said, "and so we've been working for many weeks now to rapidly translate the CDC guidelines to the fire context."

The Bureau of Land Management has announced prohibitions starting today because of increasing fire danger and to prevent people from starting fires on BLM-managed lands. Things that are off-limits include the use of campfires or charcoal, smoking outside a vehicle, fireworks and off-highway vehicle use except in designated OHV areas.

Fire crews commonly cross county and state lines moving from one fire to the next. McCray said the public can help keep the coronavirus from spreading to fire crews or what he called "modules" with best practices such as using face coverings and social distancing.

"Our firefighters are good when they're in their module as one; where they're at risk is when they go out into the community and shop or get gas," he said. "And so, the safer the community, it carries over to the health of firefighters."

The state order can be viewed at the BLM New Mexico Fire Restrictions site. Violations of the order are subject to fines of not more than $100,000 or imprisonment of not more than 12 months, or both, plus restitution costs for fire suppression or damage.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM