California Wildfires

California Wildfires: 10,000 N-95 Masks, Fire-Specific Supplies Bound for Communities Statewide

A burned-out van smolders after the Camp Fire moved through Paradise, California on Nov 8, 2018. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A burned-out van smolders after the Camp Fire moved through Paradise, California on Nov 8, 2018. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Firefighters continue battling deadly blazes that erupted Thursday across California.

The Camp Fire has devastated the Northern California town of Paradise, about 80 miles north of Sacramento, forcing as many as 40,000 Butte County residents to evacuate and burning more than 70,00 acres. At least five people died in their cars trying to flee the inferno, according to Butte County law enforcement. The situation is still unfolding, but officials believe as many as 1,000 structures have been destroyed.

In Southern California, Santa Ana wind-whipped flames jumped Highway 101 and continued churning toward the Pacific Ocean. Neighborhoods in Malibu were being evacuated Friday, and about 75,000 homes are under threat in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.

The blazes come a year after a massive series of fires broke out across Northern California, ripping through neighborhoods and killing 44, and within weeks of the Thomas Fire, which burned more more than 280,000 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.  Direct Relief responded extensively during and after those fires, and has extended assistance to health centers and clinics statewide, in and around the fire perimeters.

On Friday, Direct Relief staff were working to prepare a shipment of 10,000 N-95 respirator masks requested by the Santa Rosa Community Health Center for distribution. Though the center is not directly in the fire’s path, staff reported poor air quality in the area. The masks were donated by 3M.

Beyond the threat from high temperatures, wildfires can exacerbate chronic health issues such as asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory problems. For those with such conditions, fires deal a harsh combination of smoke, dust and other particulates in the air.

Inhalers, N-95 masks, eye wash and essential medicines leave Direct Relief's warehouse Thursday night bound for areas impacted by the Hill Fire in Ventura County. (Lara Cooper/Direct Relief)
Inhalers, N-95 masks, eye wash and essential medicines leave Direct Relief’s warehouse Thursday night bound for areas impacted by the Hill Fire in Ventura County. (Lara Cooper/Direct Relief)

Eight pallets of N-95 respiratory masks, as well as inhalers, nebulizers, eye-wash solution, and other essential medicines, were all shipped out to fire-impacted communities, including those in Ventura County.

Direct Relief maintains a standing inventory of items needed during wildfires, such as N-95 masks and respiratory medications.

Direct Relief is in close communication with state, county and local health officials about medical needs that may arise as more people evacuate. Direct Relief is also working with the California Office of Emergency Services, the Red Cross, Pacific Coast and Ventura County Chapters, Ventura’s Medical Reserve Corps and Office of Emergency Services, among others.

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