Person working Pumpkin Fire tests positive for COVID-19

Wednesday August 12, 2020

UPDATED: 8/13/2020

(Idaho City) – As many as 360 people have been assigned to the Pumpkin Fire, with about 270 people on the fire line. This week a person on the fire line developed symptoms consistent with coronavirus and was removed from the fire line and isolated. The individual subsequently tested positive for coronavirus. Two other individuals assigned to the fire but working on a different crew appeared to be symptomatic, but rapid testing returned negative results.

The individual who tested positive and the firefighters that were working with that individual were isolated and left the area and returned to their home unit without interacting with other fire crews, the Incident Command Post in Idaho City, any of the communities surrounding the Pumpkin Fire, or the general public.

The suppression of the fire is a joint effort between the Idaho Department of Lands, the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. The fire started by lightning the morning of August 6 southwest of Hawley Mountain. It is burning in timber and in difficult mountain terrain.

Every possible precaution has been taken to prevent infection and the spread of COVID-19 between fire crews, support staff, and local communities. Crews and support staff are continuing protection measures that include social distancing, wearing face masks when unable to maintain social distance, going through daily self-screening, practicing rigorous sanitation, and minimizing contact with local communities.

In addition, the firefighting effort is designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • To limit the size of the fire camp, operations resources stay in small “spike camps” near the fire line.
  • Along with camping separately, crews in the field have limited face-to-face interaction with each other while they work, a concept called a “Module as One” so that if a firefighter becomes ill, the exposure is limited to that one crew, simplifying isolation and contact tracing.
  • Support personnel at the Incident Command Post also work in small functional groups and limit face-to-face interactions.

Next Steps:

  • Contact tracing is being conducted and firefighting work will continue.
  • The confirmed COVID-19 case has not slowed down progress on the fire.
  • Crews will continue to be to do self-checks for coronavirus symptoms.
  • All people associated with the fire will continue to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines.
  • Additional resources are available if needed.

Pumpkin Fire Details:

  • Access by road is difficult and a four-hour round trip from the Idaho City Incident Command Post.
  • The fire is 4 miles northwest of Placerville, 7.5 miles northeast of Horseshoe Bend, and 8 miles southeast of Garden Valley. No structures are immediately threatened.
  • The size is currently holding at 438 acres.
  • Crews continue constructing fire lines while helicopters provide water drops to areas of concentrated heat.




Media Contact

Scott Phillips
Idaho Department of Lands
Policy and Communications Chief
(208) 713-6487