Wildfires Burn Across Western United States Amid Extreme Heat

Direct Relief is providing medical aid, including particulate masks, wound care supplies, and respiratory medications, to health facilities in fire-affected zones.



The Dixie Fire produces red skies above Plumas County on August 9, 2021. (Courtesy photo)

Across the U.S., crews are battling over 100 active wildfires as heat alerts blanket much of the country.

In California, the Dixie Fire is now the second-largest in state history at just over 515,000 acres, according to Cal Fire. The blaze is burning east of Chico in four counties, including Butte, which was devastated by the Camp Fire in 2018. The fire has destroyed more than 1,000 buildings and last week leveled the town of Greenville. On Friday, the fire was 30% contained.

Several smaller fires are burning across California, producing poor air quality and prompting evacuation orders. The Monument Fire in Shasta County has burned more than 74,000 acres since igniting last month and was 5% contained as of Friday, according to data collected by the San Francisco Chronicle. In Siskiyou County, the River Complex Fire is just 10% contained having burned more than 36,000 acres and prompting evacuations in several surrounding areas.

In Montana, the Richard Spring Fire has grown to 170,000 acres since igniting last weekend near the Northern Cheyenne Nation. Dry hot weather and gusty winds are expected to exacerbate flames over the weekend, according to Inciweb. Hundreds of residents have been evacuated as crews work to increase containment from 0%. Currently, more than 25 large fires are burning across Montana–more than any other state in the country, according to Axios.

Dozens of fires are burning across Oregon and Washington as a heat dome descends on the Pacific Northwest this weekend. The Bootleg Fire in Oregon–the state’s largest–was nearly 100% contained on Friday after scorching more than 400,000 acres, according to Inciweb. In Washington, crews are battling 16 active fires that have collectively burned more than 260,000 acres across the state, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Direct Relief’s Response

Since mid-July, Direct Relief has provided more than $140,000 in medical aid to Northern California health facilities treating patients in fire-affected areas. Shipments have included N-95 masks, wound care supplies, respiratory medications, nutritional aid, and prescription medications for anxiety and depression.

Direct Relief has made its inventory of medical aid available to 30 health centers and clinics across Northern California in addition to three public health departments. Supplies offered include respiratory masks, tetanus vaccines, insulin, inhalers, and oxygen concentrators.

In response to wildfires burning in Montana, Direct Relief is preparing emergency shipments bound for the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in addition to the towns of Ashland, Lame Deer, and Colstrip. The shipments include twelve packs of emergency medical supplies each containing personal protective equipment, wound care supplies, diagnostic equipment, and over-the-counter infection control medications. Direct Relief is also deploying shipments containing KN95 masks, eye drops, and solar power systems as fire-related outages affect the region.

As wildfire season draws on, Direct Relief will continue to assess the needs of health facilities in fire-affected zones and respond accordingly.

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