Firefighter/paramedic dies of COVID and fungal infection

Assigned to the McCash Fire in Northern California

4:30 p.m. PDT October 21, 2021

Firefighter and masticator on the McCash Fire.
Firefighter and masticator on the McCash Fire. InciWeb Aug. 13, 2021

The U.S. Fire Administration has reported that a fireline paramedic, Marshall Grant Brookfield assigned to the McCash Fire in Northern California, died September 29, 2021. He was employed by Emergency Response Logistics of Grand Lake, Colorado.

Here is the complete statement from the USFA: (Update Oct. 25, 2021; some of the details in the USFA report have come into question and may or may not be accurate.)

Wildland Firefighter/Paramedic Marshall Grant Brookfield was deployed to the McCash fire in Orleans, CA when he contracted COVID-19 and a rare fungal infection that was found to be directly associated to the wildfires and smoke inhalation. He was removed from the incident due to severe illness and sent to the hospital where he was admitted and remained in the Intensive Care Unit until his passing on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021.

Age: 41
Gender: Male
Status: Wildland-Contract
Years of Service: 1
Date of Incident: Sept. 13, 2021
Date of Death: Sept. 29, 2021

A GoFundMe account has been established to assist his wife and three children.

Matt Possert, one of the people who donated funds for Mr. Brookfield’s wife and children, wrote this on GoFundMe:

Marshall and I worked on the McCash Fire together as Paramedics. My first impression of Marshall is that he was a stand up guy. Very professional, passionate about his craft and confident and competent while humble. One of the first things Marshall told me was the challenge of getting 2 weeks of childcare arranged basically overnight. He did this so he could be a part of the team and support the mission of saving lives, protecting property and helping others. And he also did this to provide for his family as a strong and dedicated husband and father. I’m privileged to have gotten to know Marshall and to take care of my fellow brother while he was ill in the acute stages.

Unlike firefighters who are killed by other hazards on fires, we may never have a full accounting of how many are being killed by COVID on wildfires.

If you have information about others who have died from COVID after being infected on a fire, leave the information in a comment. Include a link, if you have it, to more details about the line of duty death.

We send our sincere condolences to the family, friends, and coworkers of Mr. Brookfield.

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please read the commenting rules before you post a comment.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

8 thoughts on “Firefighter/paramedic dies of COVID and fungal infection”

  1. “Well take it from here.” ???I send my condolences.

    I do not personally have stories of deaths, although I was on a fire in the KNP complex and fell very ill. I chose to leave the line after being forced to work through it for 2 days. I had a weird break out on my skin and thought I had caught covid. Which I had, but I also have a fungal infection which was linked to black mold. I am extremely thankful I listen to my body and didn’t wait any longer. This article is a reminder of that. Should serve many as a learning lesson and one id never heard of prior to this.

    rest in paradise.

  2. Still another firefighter (Layla Bradley, 29, from Powell, Wyoming) died October 11 in California, but I found NO details of the cause, barely even a mention. Perhaps some readers have more.

    From USFS (not verbatim): “The Inyo National Forest received a report of a medical emergency AT the Rock Creek Fire Station (near Mammoth Lakes) on Monday, October 11. Forest Service personnel responded and attempted lifesaving efforts for firefighter Layla Bradley, 29, from Powell, Wyoming. Lifesaving efforts by firefighters/first responders were unsuccessful. Layla died suddenly while on an assignment to the forest.

    Layla was working as a member of a wildland fire engine from Dragon Fighters Inc, a company that works under contract with the US Forest Service. They were providing additional initial attack coverage for the forest during this difficult fire season.

    Here is the obituary (with a photo of Layla)

    1. Greg, that is definitely concerning and interesting regarding Layla Bradley. Your comment shared that she is from Wyoming. Let me look at her obituary. Any other notices regarding her death?

    2. Greg,
      A logical reason why this wildland firefighter death has been underreported…they worked for a contractor for the state or federal government. A sad truth. Her death has yet to show up on my notifications from USFA.

      1. I don’t recall other contract workers NOT being ‘recognized’ as injured or a fatality. Yet Marshall and Layla were both contracted. Even the contractors’ (lacking) online sites don’t mention their loss (as far as I’ve seen). As a (retired) firefighter I’ll check back every-so-often, for awhile at least, to see if more on Layla is forthcoming. I’m baffled by this.

  3. “n addition, a “rare” fungal infection deserves more scrutiny as a contributing cause of death”

    Yeah, no kidding. Was this hospital candida? “Directly associated to [sic] the wildfire and smoke inhalation”–is there Valley fever on the Klamath now?

  4. Bill,

    I hope you will follow up with more information regarding this firefighter fatality. I received an email notification a couple of days ago. I will share a link from USFA regarding the fatality. Based on the official notification, there is no information regarding the vaccination status. In addition, a “rare” fungal infection deserves more scrutiny as a contributing cause of death. Research shows that those who suffer from a known or unknown autoimmune disease are more susceptible to severe health complications and death from Covid-19. In addition, those who have an autoimmune disease (known or unknown) are more likely to experience illness related to mold exposure. I think it possible he was at higher risk for a couple of reasons.

    Here is a link to the notification:

  5. My sincere condolences to members of Marshall Grant Brookfield’s family during this time of grief and loss.

    I have concerns regarding other information regarding this firefighter fatality.


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