TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Monday, Governor Doug Ducey traveled to Tucson for an update on the Bighorn Fire.
Donning a mask with the Arizona state flag, Governor Ducey first met with fire officials to get a briefing of the Bighorn Fire before addressing the public. Ducey opened his comments by thanking fire officials and crews battling the multiple fires around the state.
Every wildfire season in Arizona is serious and this year is no different.
“They’ve done an excellent job rising to the occasion and meeting this challenge that this year and this fire season has presented,” said Ducey.
Monday, the Bighorn fire was more than 58,000 acres large, only 16 percent contained and had more than 900 people working on the fire. Weather often playing an unfriendly role with hot temperatures and heavy winds. The Bighorn fire is managed by a Type 1 incident command team, with many air and ground resources.
“We will bring whatever resources we need to the Tucson area to protect the people and property here, but this fire is going to be put out, and the one resources we’re going to need in addition to the brave women and men you see fighting this fire is mother nature,” said Ducey.
Governor Ducey said four crews helping were from Arizona prisons. While 2020 has brought fires, the year is marked, too, with COVID-19. The state has seen multiple record-setting days with 2,000 to 3,000 or more new COVID-19 cases a day. When asked if the state reopened too soon, Ducey said the stay-at-home order was to prepare hospitals for a potential surge. He said the state feels comfortable with the amount of PPE available now. However, as most cases in Arizona are trending with individuals in their 20s through 40s, the Governor said his office will be making announcements “later this week” after seeing where Arizona falls with data.
“The challenge going forward is how are we going to balance the protection of lives livelihoods as we go through the summer and fall when the virus will still be with us,” said Ducey.
While COVID-19 has been around since the start of the Bighorn Fire, officials say most fire fighting operations are the same. They say they have increased cleaning policies and provided masks for people at base camp, however, firefighters in the field do not wear masks. Officials say firefighters stay in their same groups.
“We’re maintaining our social distancing,” said John Pierson, Incident commander of the Bighorn Fire. “That module sticks together. They eat together, they camp together so they’re not inter-mingling.”
The Governor encouraged people to prevent wildfires and the spread of COVID-19, by following forest rules and regulations as well as wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and washing hands frequently.