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With the traditional start of California’s dreaded wildfire season rapidly approaching, the spread of the coronavirus has threatened to complicate state firefighting efforts.

Although top emergency officials say they are hopeful that the spread of COVID-19 will taper off by the time serious fire weather arrives in the fall, the outbreak has already forced departments to put a hold on large training exercises, cancel controlled burns and delay inspections of fire-prone properties in Los Angeles.

Of greatest concern to Red Cross officials is preventing the spread of illness at evacuation centers, which can quickly grow crowded with evacuees of all ages.

Another question is how battalions of firefighters might guard against the pathogen while battling flames in close formations, or while eating and sleeping in fire base camps that were notorious for outbreaks of “camp crud” even before the pandemic.

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