Several BC firefighters deployed to California test positive for COVID-19

16 firefighters catch COVID

A number of firefighters deployed to Oregon and California brought back more than souvenirs and memories.

Sixteen of the 429 BC Wildfire Service firefighters sent to battle the raging forest fires have tested positive for COVID-19.

Wildfire service spokesman Forrest Tower says three provincial firefighters tested positive for the virus while in California, while 13 others developed symptoms upon returning to the province.

"It's most likely the exposure event happened some time in California," Tower told Castanet News.

He says given the timing of the symptoms, it's not believed that those who became symptomatic did so while travelling or upon their return.

"We are working with our American counterparts for contact tracing, but as far as I know the health authorities aren't sure exactly where the exposure event was in California," he says.

Tower says the B.C. crews were separated from the American crews. They had their own camp, their own shower and ate separately.

"But, no system is perfect."

The three who tested positive while in California are under federal care in a federal quarantine facility.

The others, those who tested positive and those who did not, are in a provincial facility in Richmond.

Because of the positive tests, all firefighters were asked to extend their quarantine by a few days. Those who arrived back Oct. 11 have now returned home while those arriving a week later will remain quarantined a few more days.

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