SALEM, Ore. — Oregon state officials say that they will need to get more information from property owners before they can begin the bulk of the clean-up of debris left behind by the devastating September fires, including the Almeda and South Obenchain fires in Jackson County.
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.
Also in November, the Oregon Office of Emergency Management announced that the state would embark on that second phase of clean-up — removing the ruins of damaged homes, burned out automobiles, and hazard trees — sometime in December.
OEM said in a statement on Wednesday that those who wish to participate in debris clean-up will need to complete a questionnaire asking for property-specific information; including how many buildings were on the property, the number of burned vehicles, and the locations of underground tanks and foundations.
"Property owners should watch for a letter or email from the task force with details on how to access the questionnaire and should complete it as soon as possible," the agency said.
Crews will remove any dead or dying trees that pose a threat to safety, followed by removal of ash, structural debris, concrete and other household materials.
"Hazard trees removal along roadways has begun," OEM said. "The initial focus is on logs and debris remaining from fire response work. Crews will then move on to private property."
Clean-up will include homes, mobile home parks, second homes, businesses and other structures. Once work is completed, property owners will receive a notice that the property is ready for rebuilding.
Property owners in Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn and Marion are eligible to participate in cleanup. For most, the cleanup will be at no cost. As with the hazardous debris removal, agencies will only seek compensation from insurance plans that either set aside funds specifically for clean-up, or plans that have funds remaining after rebuilding is complete.