COVID-19 pandemic may be resulting in a busier season for firefighters

Fresno firefighters say they've already responded to more than 2,096 fires this year, compared to the more than 1,200 they saw all of last year.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno firefighters have lately been getting more calls for help than usual.

"Our fire response is up over 60%. It feels like we're constantly running, running, running," says Shane Brown, Fresno Fire spokesperson.

Brown says they've already responded to more than 2,096 fires this year, compared to the more than 1,200 they saw all of last year.

In May alone, crews handled about 17 fire calls a day.

Structure fires, which have displaced more than 300 people in Fresno so far this year, are also on the rise.

"COVID has kept people home, so statistically more accidents are going to happen," says Brown.

The number of vegetation fires has also surged.

Brown says they have 92 confirmed cases of arson so far compared to the 142 the department received in all of 2019.

They attribute some of that increase to the zero bail policy that allows some offenders to walk free early.

With an increase in calls and a little under 300 firefighters, the department is stretched thin.

"Urban search and rescue, high angle low angle, water rescue all those things take a back seat when our resources are impacted by fire."

While calls don't seem to be slowing down and temperatures continue to rise, the department is working to spread out their resources as much as they can while getting ready for the busy season.

"We take a lot of pride in providing the best service we can with what we have," says Brown.
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