USFS FF who fought Colo.'s largest fire spends 5 weeks on ventilator with COVID-19

U.S. Forest Service Firefighter Jason Phillips, who lives in Washington state, is still in Colorado recovering four months after battling the Cameron Peak Fire

By Laura French

DENVER — An out-of-state firefighter who battled Colorado's largest-ever wildfire in August spent more than five weeks on a ventilator after contracting COVID-19. 

U.S. Forest Service Firefighter Jason Phillips, who lives in Washington state, first traveled to Colorado in mid-August to battle the Cameron Peak Fire, and first reported feeling ill during an overnight shift on Aug. 25, according to 9News

Phillips went to the emergency room, and at first tested negative for the virus, but when he returned due to persistent symptoms, he tested positive and was admitted to the intensive care unit. 

Phillips was then placed on a ventilator and says doctors told him he had a 50-50 chance of surviving. He was removed from the ventilator after 39 days and two more negative COVID-19 tests. 

Four months after his arrival in Colorado, Phillips remains in the hospital on supplemental oxygen recovering from the virus. He said being in a coma for 39 days affected his ability to walk, and that COVID-19 is the worst type of injury he has suffered in 25 years of firefighting — worse than when he suffered smoke inhalation and a broken back. 

However, Phillips said he does not regret coming to the aid of Coloradans and would make the same decision if he had to do it over again. 

An online fundraiser was started to aid Phillips in his recovery. 

The Cameron Peak Fire was 94% contained as of Nov. 30, burning more than 208,000 acres since Aug. 13, according to the U.S. Forest Service

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