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Firefighters injured battling Colorado wildfire

The recent outbreak of wildfires in northeast Colorado is not only damaging property, but also causing injury to those who are tasked with fighting them. By March 19, the wildfire was fully contained, but three firefighters were injured on the job while battling the blaze. They are now receiving treatment and may be eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits.

One of the firefighters was a woman who is currently hospitalized at the Western States Burn Center in Greeley, part of the North Colorado Medical Center. The woman received severe burns on March 18 after she tripped and fell after getting out of the fire truck in what was described as zero visibility. According to her mother, when she tripped, one of her boots came off and the flames engulfed her.

Although she lived, the woman is in significant pain at the moment. She received second and third-degree burns to 25 percent of her body, and the hospital has her completely wrapped as she begins her recovery. Thankfully, her airway remained clear, but her fingers were all burned and one of her eyes was swollen shut.

The other two firefighters who were injured do not appear to have been burned as severely. One man burned his eye, but he was released from the hospital shortly thereafter. It was not clear from a local news report as to the extent of the injuries suffered by a third firefighter, who is also the brother-in-law of the woman.

As their injuries illustrate, firefighters are often called upon to act in dangerous situations to protect the safety of the public. Here, the Colorado woman may especially have significant medical expenses to cover and she may be unable to return to her job for quite some time. The other two firefighters may also have large medical expenses as well. Fortunately, workers' compensation benefits are often available to those injured on the job to cover not only medical bills but also lost wages.

Source: NBC News 9, "Injured firefighter's mom: 'It's hard to see a child hurting'," Blair Shiff and Nick McGurk, March 19, 2012

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