Wildfire in the time of Coronavirus

How is fire fighting different during a pandemic. I explore that today in my article published in Voices of Monterey Bay about firefighting, the Plaskett fires, and our pandemic. Here are the first few paragraphs. One can go here: https://voicesofmontereybay.org/2020/06/26/wildfire-in-the-time-of-coronavirus/ to read the rest of it.

Photo by Brendon Shave


By Kate Woods Novoa

I’ve been following wildland fires since I moved to the Big Sur backcountry in 1994 and survived my first close encounter in 1996. Big Sur has had a lot of fires since then, and I’ve closely monitored them all. But I had a new fire experience earlier this month that I hope never happens again: two fires in two weeks along the road leading to my house.

The first, on June 3, was called the Plaskett Fire and was caused by humans. The U.S. Forest Service says it is under investigation. The second, the Ridge Fire, started June 17. They were both put out quickly, but before describing how, I want to talk about the science of firefighting first.

I have studied the language of firefighting in my online interactions. Every year, I am immersed in the wildland fire culture in person and online. Fire is why I first learned how to blog and has been an all-consuming summer unpaid occupation for 12 years now, as more and more people use the backcountry, some of whom don’t have a clue about the dangers.

Read the rest. Go to Https://voicesofmontereybay.org

4 thoughts on “Wildfire in the time of Coronavirus

  1. Very well written Kate. Prevention would save tax payers and the Federal government hundreds of millions of dollars a year. I will never understand how so many of us have been pushing for this for years and nothing ever changes. The time has truly come, especially with the mind blowing increase in dispersed camping all over Big Sur.

  2. And by John Maclean you are referring to the son of Normal Maclean who wrote A River Runs Through It, and son John likely got started by ushering the posthumous publication of father Norman’s Young Men and Fire in 1992, which assembled Norman’s extensive research on the 1949 Mann Gulch Fire which took the lives of 13 firefighters. As a young man, Norman worked in logging camps and for the US Forest Service in the Bitterroots of Northwest Montana.

    These days, young men rarely ever touch an axe, saw, pulaski, or MacLeod tool, if a callous were to develop on their hand, it likely resulted from overuse of their iPhones.

  3. Yes, John is Norman’s son. I have Norman’s book on the Mann Gulch fire also. Firefighters, young men and women, still use axe, saw, pulaski and MacLeods and still have and get calluouses. If not in USFS, Cal-Fire, or on inmate crew, I am sure many others also have callouses like carpenters, welders, just about anyone in the trades.

  4. Great story! One reason I voted for Panetta was his platform point of directing resources toward prevention. I hope to read some of the sources you mentioned at some point. My ex gave me a pulaski for my birthday once and later a McCloud–much used and appreciated!!

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