Responding to the Black Forest Fire in Colorado


Direct Relief’s Emergency Response team has reached out to its health center and clinic partners near the Black Forest Fire burning near Colorado Springs, Colorado and has stock of fire-related medical supplies ready to deploy from its warehouse.

The growing fire, which has consumed 15,000 acres and has destroyed at least 360 homes – the most ever in a Colorado wildfire – has prompted the evacuation of more than 38,000 people, according to the Denver Post. So far, no injuries have been reported.

The team has offered assistance to three local health center and clinic partners, the Colorado Community Health Network, as well as the Red Cross. Direct Relief is stocked with commonly-requested items for fires, including particulate masks, inhalers, nebulizers and other supplies used to treat patients suffering from respiratory problems related to the fire and smoke. In addition, first-aid products, medical supplies for eye irritation, and personal care products are on standby should they be requested for potentially-affected patients.

Wildfires pose serious health risks beyond the flames themselves. The smoke contains particulate matter that can hurt the eyes, irritate the respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung conditions, especially in children. An air quality warning has been issued for the Colorado Springs and Denver Metro area as a result of  concentrated levels of the heavy wildfire smoke.

Additionally, any rapid, mass evacuation raises general health risks for evacuees, particularly those who require medications to manage chronic conditions, like asthma and diabetes. These treatments are often forgotten when people rush to flee their homes in an emergency.

The emergency team continues to monitor the latest fire activity (large dots) in relation to its partner network (small yellow dots) using Palantir software (pictured above). Direct Relief also has an intern correspondent on the ground in Colorado Springs who reports that she and her family are safe, but have packed and are prepared to evacuate.

Direct Relief has been a part of past Colorado wildfire response efforts, including the Waldo Canyon Fire last year, in which the organization shipped more than $25,000 worth of medicines and supplies to its nearby health center partner.

Follow Direct Relief’s Twitter feed for the latest news from partners as it unfolds.


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