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PHOENIX, Ore. — The herculean task of cleaning up debris left behind by the devastating Almeda and South Obenchain fires is now underway, more than four months after the early September fires leveled hundreds of homes and businesses.
Debris clean-up marks "step two" of the effort, which began with removal of hazardous waste in October. The first step meant removal of chemicals and other hazards. Though limited compared to the larger task of debris removal, crews still removed roughly 300,000 pounds of waste from damaged and destroyed properties.
Step two will result in a more noticeable change to the devastated areas left behind by the September fires. Crews will be hauling out heaps of ash and the twisted remains of structures, digging out concrete foundations, and cutting down trees left charred and dead.
Once this stage is done, property owners will be given a letter from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, clearing them to rebuild.
The clean-up operation begins at the ruins of several mobile home parks, like Bear Lake Estates in Phoenix, before moving on to burned neighborhoods.
While local estimates have not been forthcoming, Oregon officials say that this phase of clean-up will take between 6 and 18 months to complete for the entire state.
If you are a property owner with questions about the process, check out the Oregon website here for more information and important paperwork.