Close to central California’s idyllic avocado and citrus orchards, another fire is burning.
Mere hours after Direct Relief delivered 50 Emergency Medical Packs to Ventura County’s Medical Reserve Corps, the Maria Fire broke out in the City of Santa Paula on Thursday night, forcing about 8,000 people to evacuate and surrounding schools to close.
The Medical Reserve Corps, which provides medical aid during large-scale local emergencies, was activated that night and sent to Ventura County’s Camarillo shelter to provide aid, before being relieved on Friday morning.
Receiving the packs “worked out perfect, because we weren’t expecting a fire and then all of a sudden…we got a request from the Emergency Operations Center,” said Erik Hansen, an emergency medical services operations specialist with Ventura County’s Public Health Department.
The fire has burned approximately 9,000 acres. Although it grew aggressively overnight, its progress has slowed, as winds weakened and temperatures cooled early in the morning.
Smoky air floated up the coastline throughout Friday. According to the air quality tracking website Purple Air, Santa Barbara County, approximately an hour’s drive from the fire and the location of Direct Relief’s headquarters, had the worst air quality index in the state of California on Friday afternoon.
This is the second fire to strike Ventura County in the past few days alone. The Easy Fire, which erupted in Simi Valley earlier this week, burned nearly 2,000 acres, forcing thousands to evacuate and coming close to destroying the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
And in December of 2017, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties were badly hit by the devastating Thomas Fire, which burned more than 280,000 acres and destroyed hundreds of homes.
To aid in the Maria Fire, Direct Relief is providing transportation support to the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and is in open communication with Ventura County emergency management. The organization has reached out to offer aid to health care organizations near the affected region.
As always, Direct Relief is focused on both responding to emergency medical needs and ensuring continuity of care at nearby health centers and clinics.