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Doctor Warns Of Lung Damage Linked To Wildfire Smoke As Getty Fire Burns Near Sepulveda Pass

SAN DIMAS (CBSLA) — Hospitals are seeing more patients with breathing problems as wildfires rip through California and doctors are warning of the serious health risks.

A thick blanket of smoke began polluting the air as the Getty Fire erupted just west of the Sepulveda Pass early Monday — not long after firefighters got control of last week's Tick Fire in Canyon Country.

As hazy sunsets loom over the hills of Los Angeles County, residents like Sarah Flaherty are complaining of respiratory problems due to poor air quality.

"We were driving up the 210 and we were like, 'Oh my gosh! Look at how awful the air looks, it just looks terrible,'" she remembered, adding of the symptoms: "My nephew, Maddox, is having a hard time with breathing."

RELATED: 618-Acre Getty Fire Erupts In Sepulveda Pass, Thousands Ordered To Evacuate: 'Get The Hell Out'

Arleen Bustos, of Covina, said she's been experiencing similar symptoms for the last week.

"I've had dizziness. I thought it was vertigo. But my doctor said it was allergies due to all the smoke," she said.

Dr. Jose Diaz spoke with CBS2/KCAL9 from San Dimas Community Hospital, where he says patients have been checking into the emergency room with smoke-related breathing concerns.

"It can damage your lungs — obviously," he said, explaining of common symptoms: "Definitely get some shortness of breath, wheezing, runny nose."

Certain individuals are particularly vulnerable.

"If you're asthmatic, or a child, or pregnant it can cause more damage than in a healthy, young individual," he explained.

What can be done?

"When the air quality's bad you wanna stay inside, keep your windows closed," he advised.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued smoke and dust advisories Monday, saying smoke from the Getty Fire has contributed to very unhealthy air quality across the L.A. area.

The fire danger isn't expected to subside anytime soon. Another Santa Ana wind event is expected Tuesday; experts say it could push the smoke and ash north toward the San Fernando Valley, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley and Burbank.


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