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Direct relief organization handing out N95 mask to those in need in Santa Barbara County

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Posted at 5:23 AM, Oct 15, 2021

Smoke and ash from the Alisal Fire have definitely set unhealthy air quality levels in Santa Barbara County.

This has prompted one local relief organization to step in and help those who might be having a hard time breathing with the smoke and ash.

On Wednesday the Santa Barbara County's Air Pollution Control District announced an air quality alert for Santa Barbara County due to the smoke from the Alisal Fire.

Thursday's air quality map shows how different parts of the county range in quality from unhealthy, unhealthy for sensitive groups, and moderate.

For those in the areas where the air quality is unhealthy for everyone, one local organization wanted to help.

"When the fire broke out, we were on notice, and clearly as the air quality deteriorated we made the decision to make them available to local residents,” said Thomas Tighe, Direct Relief CEO and President.

Employees and volunteers at Direct Relief have been handing out masks to anyone who wants or needs one.

The organization said those who are at heightened risks especially benefit from having an N95 mask

"I read about this as I was looking at the fire updates and I thought it was wonderful and I called to make sure they had enough,” said Santa Barbara resident Jann Jaffe.

For residents like Jaffe, extra protection is critical.

"I think it's very generous and very helpful especially because I have asthma, so I can get this for the smoke and they let me take as many as I need for friends,” said Jaffe.

Direct Relief is working closely with local emergency response, county fire, sheriffs department and even extended their help to local schools in the area.

"I’ll drive there myself if necessary, we understand there's enough happening in the world this day so anything we can do to help and make people feel secure we would be happy to do that,” said Tighe.

Wednesday alone the organization handed out about 26,000 N95 masks.

Direct Relief will be handing out masks throughout the rest of the week and the organization adds if needed they will extend their help past Friday if needed.

Their location is at 6100 Wallace Becknell Rd. off Hollister Ave. Masks can be picked up between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm.