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Heatwave, Rabid Bats, COVID, Smoky Air, Flex Alert. What’s Next for Fresno?



Pictures of challenges facing Fresno, California: heatwave, blackouts, potentially rabid bats, and COVID-19
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Today defines what it means to be Fresno Strong.

Public health officials are telling folks not to touch dead bats because they could be rabid.

The heatwave continues, electricity conservation is a must, the air is smoky, and there’s a rabid bat warning amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Wednesday’s high temperature is expected to be 107 degrees, and an Excessive Heat Warning remains in effect.

Though the state — thanks to conservation efforts by residents — avoided rolling electricity blackouts on Monday and Tuesday, there’s a Flex Alert today from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Because of wildfires, the Valley Air District has issued a Health Caution and is advising residents to remain indoors.

Public health officials are telling folks not to touch dead bats because they could be rabid.

Meanwhile, Fresno is one of 42 counties on California’s COVID-19 watch list.

And, that means children and parents are having to navigate the first days of distance learning and the usual family dynamics that can be challenging in so-called “normal times.”

So, where do we begin?

Tips on staying safe and cool during a heatwavean

Report but Don’t Touch Dead Bats

This heatwave isn’t just straining the electricity grid and causing wildfires. It’s deadly for bats. Don’t be surprised if you find one on the ground near your house or somewhere else.

“These bats can be potential carriers of rabies,” said the Fresno County Department of Public Health in a news release. “Rabies is a very serious disease and is almost always fatal if not treated before symptoms appear.”

The department reports that a rabid bat was found in central Fresno recently and six bats last year tested positive for rabies.

Make sure dogs and cats are vaccinated.

If you come across a dead bat in the city of Fresno, call the Central California SPCA, (559) 233-7722. Residents in unincorporated county areas should call Fresno Humane Animal Services, (559) 600-PETS.

For more information on rabies, call (559) 600-3332 or visit

Wildfires Filling Valley With Smoke

Multiple wildfires are bringing smoke into the San Joaquin Valley and making breathing difficult.

“Anyone experiencing poor air quality due to wildfire smoke should move indoors, to a filtered, air-conditioned environment with windows closed.” — Valley Air District

People “with existing respiratory conditions, including COVID-19, young children and the elderly, are especially susceptible to the health effects from this form of pollution,” the Valley Air District said in a news release. “Anyone experiencing poor air quality due to wildfire smoke should move indoors, to a filtered, air-conditioned environment with windows closed.”

The three fires cited by air officials as being responsible for the health: the Lake Fire in Southern California, the Canyon Zone Fire in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties, and the Hills Fire nine miles south of Coalinga near Highway 33.

The Hills Fire has burned 1,500 acres and is 35% contained. Cal Fire reports that 462 personnel are battling the blaze in steep terrain. Containment is expected by Aug. 27.

These are a few of the many wildfires underway in California.

On Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared an emergency, easing the way to secure federal grants and also out-of-state firefighting help.

Photo of wildfires

Bill Nichols, 84, works to save his home as the LNU Lightning Complex fires tear through Vacaville, on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. Nichols has lived in the home for 77 years. Fire crews across the region scrambled to contain dozens of wildfires sparked by lightning strikes as a statewide heatwave continues. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Rolling Blackouts Averted, but Conservation Still Needed

After warning Tuesday that as many as 2 million homes and businesses might be subject to rotating blackouts, the California Independent System Operator canceled its emergency declaration Tuesday night.

“That’s a wrap. You did it, California consumers,” California ISO tweeted, adding: “Thank you for keeping the electricity flowing.”

Wednesday morning, the managers of the state’s electricity grid, said that today’s Flex Alert would move up an hour. During a Flex Alert, residents are asked to do whatever they can to save power.

How to See If Your House Might Go Dark

You can follow the state’s electricity supply, current demand, and expected peak demand in real-time at this link.

In addition, PG&E customers can look up their address to determine if their household will be affected by a rolling blackout. Visit to check your address.

graphic of tips to reduce power use and avoid rolling electricity blackouts

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email