Firefighters urge North Bay residents to prepare for fire season during pandemic

The hills in Sonoma County look green now after the recent rains, but it's likely they'll start drying out before too long.

Fire officials know the coronavirus won't stop the wildfire season.

"Fire season is likely to be here before you know it. And we want people to realize that," said Santa Rosa Assistant Fire Marshal Paul Lowenthal.

April is typically the time fire departments in Northern California appeal to homeowners and landlords to make sure their property isn't overgrown with weeds and brush. 

Property owners need to provide defensible space to give firefighters better odds at saving a home under attack by a wildfire.

But this year fire officials acknowledge it is more difficult to get the word out during a time people are occupied by the Coronavirus.

"We're both in the same boat. The focus is on the pandemic, but not ignoring the fact June is around the corner," said Lowenthal. "We need to make sure the community understands that even though they may have to shelter in place or are under quarantine, there are things they can be doing pro-actively around their home."

The Tubbs Fire killed 22 people and torched 5,200 homes in Santa Rosa three years ago. It's a reminder of what can happen.

Fire departments too are focused on helping their communities through the coronavirus, while at the same time, finding the safest way to train for wildfires.

"Those are the conversations that are going to take place now on how to maintain social distancing and how to train and continue to be prepared for the upcoming fire season. That's all we're doing now," said Lowenthal.