Respiratory Conditions a Concern as Sayre Fire Scorches 20,000 Acres

Working into the early morning hours today, Direct Relief staff completed six shipments of medical material aid to partner clinics in Oxnard, Tarzana, Garden Grove, and Los Angeles in response to the Sayre Fire. The shipments contain inhalers and N-95 particulate respirators, valued at more than $20,000 (wholesale), and will arrive Monday morning via FedEx, which donated its services.

Like the Tea Fire in Santa Barbara County, the Sayre Fire came on fast and has been fueled by Santa Ana winds up to 80 miles per hour, scorching 20,000 acres, displacing 10,000 people, and filling the air with smoke and ash. Poor air quality can be a serious health concern for people with respiratory conditions, including asthma.

Inhalers generously donated by GlaxoSmithKline for California fire response were especially requested. Bill Reimers, pharmacy director at the Tarzana Treatment Center in Northridge, said, “This fire is so bad I’m sure we’ll have a real need for them.”

Anyone who is outdoors in the heavy smoke and ash isencouraged to use a protective N-95 particulate respirator, which is easy to wear. Medical supply manufacturer Medline Industries Inc. provided Direct Relief with a generous discount on its wholesale mask price, allowing the organization to purchase thousands of masks to provide to clinics.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared states of emergency for the Southern California counties affected by wildfires. Direct Relief remains in close contact with clinic partners throughout the region to assist where needed. The Sayre Fire is about 20 percent contained as of midday Sunday.

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