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California Virus War Slams Into Its Other Crisis: Wildfires

Pandemic complicates preparations for blazes that arrive with vengeance every year

Contractors working for PG&E install steel power poles in St. Helena, California, on April 21.
Contractors working for PG&E install steel power poles in St. Helena, California, on April 21.Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
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A crisis California didn’t foresee -- the Covid-19 pandemic -- is complicating preparations for one that arrives with a vengeance every year.

With wildfire season on the horizon, state officials have ordered prevention efforts to proceed after rains have tapered off and before the heat of summer. But work is progressing slower than usual as firefighting agencies and electric utilities institute new practices to keep employees safe.