SANTA MARIA, Calif. – The Chimney Fire continues to burn and as it does thick black smoke continues to billow into the air.
For firefighters and agencies on the front lines they are exposed to the toxic materials that can be a result of the flames burning and the structures being destroyed.
“The people closest to the fire itself like the firefighters are also at risk that’s why they have techniques and apparatus that they wear to protect themselves from inhalation of the materials to their lungs,” says Doctor Chuck Merrill.
Doctor Chuck Merrill, is an Emergency Physician at Marian Regional Medical Center. He says for people near and around the smoke they should protect themselves by wearing things like surgical masks.
“We always worry about injury to the lung and people who have disease like asthma or chronic obstructive lung disease are the highest risk,” he says.
He says it’s important for young kids and the elderly who may live near a fire to try and not inhale fumes from the smoke.
He says for residents in Santa Maria, the Chimney Fire is burning far enough away to be a real concern.
“Really here this far away and the prevailing winds there is no risk with that particular fire for people in Santa Maria so i would not be concerned at all,” he says.
Miles in the other direction the Rey Fire is burning in Southern Santa Barbara County.
It started on Thursday afternoon. Public Health Officials have issued an air quality watch and are asking people to limit their time outdoors and avoid areas with heavy smoke.
Doctor Merrill says when you’re near a fire it’s best to quickly get away from it and get to a place where breathing is easier.
“Then get yourself into fresh air and breathe fresh air and most toxins when they are breathing back into fresh air they do fine,” he says.
He says doctors continue to research the long term effects inhaling smoke and fumes like this can have on someone.