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Thomas Fire forces nursing care patients to evacuate to SLO County

Flames from the Thomas Fire burn a hillside off Bella Vista Drive in Montecito.
Flames from the Thomas Fire burn a hillside off Bella Vista Drive in Montecito. AP

The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department helped to evacuate residents from a long-term care facility in Santa Barbara who were affected by the Thomas Fire.

The Oak Cottage of Santa Barbara evacuated 27 residents to similar long-term care facilities in San Luis Obispo on Saturday afternoon.

The county helped with patient tracking, providing cots, blankets and other materials to help with the extra needs of the facilities in the county, which aren’t being identified to protect patient confidentiality.

Family members seeking information about a patient who may have been evacuated from Oak Cottage are advised to call 805-305-9326.

Public Health is coordinating closely with colleagues in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties to provide continued support as needed. If other facilities require assistance with evacuations, the department will help evacuate and provide updates.

“Because of length of time it takes to move folks in vulnerable situation, we really wanted to get ahead of this,” said Penny Borenstein, the county’s health officer. “If they’re in mandatory or voluntary evacuation zones, it’s going to take a little extra time to get them out.”

Borenstein added that seniors who predominantly make up those in skilled nursing facilities can be more vulnerable to the effects of smoke inhalation, particularly if they have existing lung conditions.

Public Health is also working with the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District to continuously assess air quality, identify any potential health impacts and inform the community about safeguarding individual health. If air quality becomes unhealthy, officials will alert the public to take precautions.

Hoist camera view of an injured firefighter being pulled up into a helicopter during the Thomas Fire in the Toro Canyon area of Carpinteria in Santa Barbara County. Video was posted on Dec. 12, 2017. The firefighter was taken to the hospital.

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