Almeda Fire victims warned about cleaning burned property

JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. — People whose property burned in the Almeda Fire are being told to not dig through debris without professional help.

“Burned properties may contain hazards such as asbestos fibers, toxic chemicals, unstable trees, and dangerous structures,” Jackson County officials said. “Complying with state and federal hazardous waste laws is complex, and contractors completing this work must have special licenses and certifications. Lastly, insurance policies may not cover the cleanup’s full cost if not completed correctly.”

Emergency Operations Center Director John Vial said, “With property owner permission, over the next few weeks, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, using EPA Strike Teams, will begin to remove household hazardous wastes from burned properties. This is the first step in the cleanup process, and our goal is to make this process as easy for property owners as possible and to ensure that it is completed in a comprehensive, safe, and organized fashion.”

County officials said avoiding any sort of haphazard cleanup can have “significant benefits” to property owners, explaining the state has organized a task force to deal with the massive cleanup.

“Getting the whole burn scar area cleaned up systematically will help maintain property values, avoid blight, and ensure compliance with state and federal laws,” Jackson County explained. “If a property owner chooses to remove debris themselves, they should receive clearance from local authorities, mitigate hazards, and wear an N95 mask, gloves, safety glasses, and sturdy shoes. Avoid rinsing debris or waste into storm drains.”

The county provided the following contacts for more information:

  • City of Talent: (541) 535-1566
  • City of Phoenix: Email [email protected]
  • Jackson County: (541) 774-6238
  • FEMA: (800) 621-3362
  • DEQ, Medford Office: (541)776-6010

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