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As Wildfire Smoke Fills the Air, Farmworkers Continue to Labor in the Fields

As fires clogged the air in Southern California, farmworkers continued to work, even as public-school students and others were told to stay home and indoors.

As smoke from the Hill Fire and the massive Woolsey Fire began blanketing Oxnard, California, last Friday, a group of students from Oxnard Union High School gathered downtown to prepare carpools out to the fields to the south of the city. Smoke was turning the sun into a dull orange disk, and the students and other community volunteers had gathered at the offices of a local advocacy organization to collect protective particulate masks to distribute to farmworkers still laboring in the fields in south Oxnard and nearby Camarillo.

The students' Friday classes had been canceled, and local officials all over Southern California had broadcast warnings advising residents to stay indoors and avoid all exercise. However, many members of the community, still recovering from the record-breaking Thomas Fire of 2017 (the largest in the state's history), knew that farmworkers would continue to be laboring in the fields, just as they had during the Thomas Fire.

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