Direct Relief Distributes 25,000 Particulate Masks

In response to the Gap Fire, which has burned approximately 6,000 acres and has been declared California’s top fire priority, Direct Relief today distributed 25,000 free N-95 particulate respirators to local residents, public safety officials, shelter residents, assisted care facilities, and the public health office.

The masks protect against breathing fine particulate matter in the fire’s ash that can cause respiratory problems. They are recommended by the California Department of Public Health to help protect lungs from wildfire smoke.

Direct Relief staff and volunteers manned two sites in Goleta—the Camino Real Marketplace and the Goleta Community Center—from 10 am to 3 pm, which were visited by an estimated 2,000 people. These sites also featured information kiosks about the fire.

Direct Relief International will continue this effort tomorrow, July 5, from 12 to 3 pm at the Camino Real Marketplace in Goleta. Local residents who were unable to pick up a free N-95 particulate mask today may obtain them for their family and neighbors tomorrow to help protect them from the effects of the fire.

In addition to establishing distribution sites, Direct Relief staff also hand-delivered masks to several locations:

  • The City of Goleta
  • UCSB Sports Camp
  • Devereux Foundation California
  • Friendship Manor
  • Elks Club
  • Red Cross shelter at San Marcos High School
  • The County Public Health Department

Direct Relief is coordinating with Santa Barbara County Health and Emergency Services officials to ensure that our efforts benefit those affected by the Gap Fire. Those suffering from respiratory conditions such as asthma are encouraged to get a free mask.

N-95 masks are simple devices to guard against respiratory complications caused by inhaling fine particulate matter, including that caused by fire. Such masks were in high demand following last year’s Southern California wildfires that swept through San Diego County, where Direct Relief furnished over 80,000 masks in response to local health officials’ and nonprofit clinics’ requests.

Today’s distribution was sourced from existing inventory received last year by CVS. Direct Relief has purchased an additional 10,000 masks that will arrive Monday. The new masks will be available for additional distribution if needed.

According to a briefing Direct Relief officers attended with fire officials, the Gap Fire has consumed 6,000 acres with no containment yet. As of 2 pm today, 1,600 homes have been placed under evacuation order.

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