COVID-19 is severely limiting the number of California inmates available to fight wildfires, leaving the state with a shortage of firefighters as it battles dozens of devastating wildfires. The state relies on ated individuals to fight wildfires, but the coronavirus pandemic led to the early release of many prisoners and caused lockdowns at prisons with COVID-19 outbreaks. As of last week, only 90 of the 192 inmate fire crews were available. In a press call on Wednesday morning, Governor Gavin Newsom asked for firefighting resources from neighboring states to address the shortage. Despite the fact that inmate fire crews go through the same training as seasonal firefighters and often work on the front lines of fires, they only get paid between $2 and $6 a day. Plus, they are virtually barred from becoming a city or county firefighter once they are released from prison, as a criminal record makes it nearly impossible to get the necessary emergency medical technician license. Those inmate crews who have been fighting fires are struggling due to the shortage of workers, on top of battling extreme heat and the risk of catching COVID-19. “We’re neglected and we’re overlooked. Once that fire call hits, it’s fire first. Fire doesn’t care about Covid.” Michelle Garcia, program coordinator at an inmate fire training facility center in Ventura County, told the New York Times. (New York Times, LA Times, Insider, Mercury News, Newsweek, WUNC).