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Firefighters Came from Mexico to Battle a CA Wildfire. Now Two Have COVID-19.

Firefighter battles the Creek Fire
A firefighter battles the Creek Fire as it threatens homes in the Cascadel Woods neighborhood of Madera County, Calif., on Monday, Sept. 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Joshua Tehee

The Fresno Bee


Three firefighters have tested positive for the coronavirus while battling the SQF Complex Fire — including two from Mexico’s Comisión Nacional Forestal.

The U.S. Forest Service confirmed the cases on Thursday and said the two Mexican firefighters and one U.S. Forest Service firefighter are currently in isolated lodging under USFS care with access to food, provisions and health professionals.

The Mexican firefighters were part of a 100-man team deployed to the SQF fire from Guadalajara last month and were scheduled to return home. They will remain in the U.S. until they are cleared to travel back, the USFS said.

The remaining CONAFOR crew members should be cleared to return to Mexico at the end of the week, if they test negative for the virus a second time.

“The Forest Service is grateful for our Mexico partner’s professionalism, teamwork, and support over the last month. The team was instrumental in helping us reach 75 percent containment and we wish them safe travels back home,” USFS public affairs officer Alicia Embrey said.

The pandemic has added another layer of complication to this fire season and federal firefighter units have struggled with COVID-19 infection on fire lines.

Earlier this month, CTV News in Vancouver, Canada reported more than a dozen Canadian firefighters tested positive for COVID-19 after helping battle wildfires in California.


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