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State sends 22,000 respirators

Wildfire smoke prompts mask delivery

State health officials have sent about 22,000 respirator masks to areas choked with wildfire smoke in Central and Eastern Washington.

Kittitas County’s health agency received 10,000 on Friday. About 12,000 were shipped to the Chelan-Douglas health District earlier in the week after reports that there were local shortages of the special breathing masks.

The wildfires running up and down the eastern slopes of the Cascade Range have poured smoke into nearby cities such as Ellensburg and Wenatchee. Some of the smoke has drifted into Spokane, causing problems for people with respiratory problems along with children, pregnant women and the elderly.

The respirator masks were delivered to the state several years ago during the H1N1 influenza (swine flu) outbreak.