In this Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019 photo provided by the Alaska Division of Forestry, a smoke plume from the McKinley Fire is seen along the Parks Highway near Willow, Alaska. (Maureen Clark/Alaska Division of Forestry via AP)
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Division of Forestry plans to suspend all burn permits in anticipation of the effects of the coronavirus on firefighting personnel and responses. The agency announced that permits will be suspended beginning May 1 in a preemptive effort to stop wildfires. Officials did not provide a date when the burn ban is expected to be lifted. Forestry officials believe Alaska will lack firefighters and equipment from the continental U.S. this year because of travel restrictions and quarantine requirements in response to the coronavirus. The department says firefighters also could contract and spread COVID-19 when responding to wildfires.