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Firefighters Are Feeling Burned Out

A firefighter watches as a helicopter makes a water drop during the Apple fire near Banning on Aug. 1 (Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)
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Fire season in California seems to get tougher every year. Seven of the 10 most destructive fires in the state's recorded history have happened in the last five years.

So it’s not surprising that burnout is a real issue for California firefighters. It just usually comes late in the season after they deal with multiple assignments. This year, the burnout has come early, accelerated by another crisis: the pandemic.

“Nevermind October, November, this September. The burnout is here right now,” said Gad Amith, a battalion chief with Cal Fire in Riverside.

He told us:

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“People are worried about their families. They’re worried about being exposed. About getting sick. It creates behavioral challenges. Nothing about this is easy.”


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