PHOENIX, Ore. — The second phase of clean-up following the Almeda Fire is at last set to begin within the coming weeks, according to Jackson County officials.
Crews contracted by the federal EPA largely wrapped up efforts to remove hazardous waste from the burn areas in November. Though those crews removed roughly 300,000 pounds of waste from damaged Oregon properties, it only represents a small fraction of the debris left behind in the wake of those September fires.
The next step is to remove ash, structural debris, concrete foundations, and other debris. This process will begin around mid-January, Jackson County said.
"Oregon Wildfire Recovery cleanup crews are continuing their preparations of staging equipment, completing environmental testing and coordinating with property owners to begin Step 2 of the Almeda Fire ash and debris removal," officials said.
Once this second step is completed, properties will be ready for rebuilding. Property owners will receive a letter from Oregon DEQ stating that the clean-up is finished.
"The removal of ash and debris is being planned and coordinated to be completed with efficiency and safety as priorities," Jackson County said. "This includes mobilizing crews to complete cleanup in communities in a combined effort prior to moving to other areas to begin work."
Clean-up has been prioritized into two tiers. The first includes Bear Lake Estates in Phoenix, Mountain View Estates in Talent, and Northridge Terrace in Medford.
Tier 2 includes the Barnum subdivision in Phoenix, Coleman Creek Mobile Home Park, the Samuel Loop Subdivision, and a number of Talent neighborhoods around Ganges Drive, Village Court, Creekside Way, and Davidson Way.
"As FEMA continues to refine their plans and complete agreements with selected mobile home park owners, these priorities will likely change to cleanup those mobile home parks where FEMA will place trailers for longer-term housing," Jackson County said.