By Ryan Hill

COLUSA COUNTY (CBS13) – From the air and the ground, Cal Fire is working hard to put out the flames of the Sites Fire in Colusa Colusa. Their other battle is one you can’t see: COVID-19.

“When we have a large number of firefighters, we ensure that they are separated, the equipment is being cleaned more often and that they are begin briefed in a social distancing atmosphere,” Deputy Chief Nick Schuler, Cal Fire, said.

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And with the third-highest positivity rate in the state occurring in Colusa County, things look a lot different this fire season. Cal Fire says firefighting tactics haven’t changed but, they are being more cautious in the field, especially when it comes to social distancing.

“I talk a lot about social distancing. But we really focus on social distancing. We focus on hygiene not just for ourselves but where we are staying. How we are working with our firefighters as well as the community,” Schuler said.

The Red Cross is also making changes to how it handles fire evacuees during the pandemic.  Gone are the days of immediately sending people to evacuation centers. Now, their top priority is to put people in hotels for isolation purposes.

If that’s not doable in rural areas like Colusa County, they then work county officials to safely distance and screen people in a gym-like shelter. 

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READ: Colusa County Becomes COVID-19 Hotspot, Positivity Rate Jumps To 21%

While home gatherings are still behind a spike in coronavirus cases, a lot of folks told CBS13 that’s who they would turn to if they needed to leave their homes.

“Go down either to my brother in Davis or to my other property in San Jose,” Lanna Von Dolhan, who lives near the Site Fire, said.

“Well, we would’ve hooked up our travel trailer and headed up to Elk Creek,” Steve Abbott, who also lives near the Site Fire, said.

“We have five dogs and two cats so we would have moved into the trail and stayed at friend’s property,” Joyce Abbott, Steve’s wife, said.

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The Red Cross told CBS13 it is assisting three families displaced by the Site Fire.