Nine firefighters working the massive Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon have tested positive for COVID, according to the Incident Management Team.
Fire bosses on site are working with local public health officials and the Oregon Health Authority as they investigate.
In accordance with protocols developed in partnership with the Oregon Health Authority for the 2020 fire season, individuals reporting symptoms and those who worked closely with them are tested and isolated until results are received.
Those who test positive are quarantined away from the fire camp.
Due to the number of positive cases, this will be reported to OHA as a workplace outbreak, and updates on the number of positive cases associated with this outbreak will be included in OHA’s COVID-19weekly report, which is issued every Wednesday.
Protecting the health and safety of firefighting personnel and those in the local community is the highest priority.
This fire season has been slightly different due to the broad availability of vaccines and the prioritization of structural and wildland firefighting resources for vaccination in the spring.
However, many of last year’s COVID-19 exposure mitigation measures are still in use at fire camps statewide. Measures currently in place at the incident camps include:
Each team has a designated Health Liaison with a primary focus of providing for the mitigation of viral spread through the implementation of best practices.
They also work with state and local authorities to manage suspected cases and provide for the efficient testing and contact tracing of fire resources.
- Ensuring the safety of incident responders and the public by implementing a thorough risk management process, including incident operations planning that minimizes the impacts and spread of COVID-19.
- Providing wellness services such as handwash stations, ample sanitation and cleaning supplies, cleaning services to regularly disinfect frequent use surfaces.
- Food services have been designed to minimize contact between resources and support services.
- The camp has also been laid out to provide ample spacing for fire crews in accordance with social distancing guidelines and to minimize direct interactions between crews.
Fire managers remain committed to safe and effective firefighting operations.
Teams will continue to partner with OHA and county public health officials to identify any opportunities to strengthen existing mitigation measures. Incident management personnel expect and hope for a full recovery of the firefighting resources.
The Bootleg Fire has burned about 400,000 acres about 30 miles northeast of Klamath Falls. It’s 38% contained.