Between wildfires, smoky conditions and windstorms, people in Oregon have been through a lot recently.
The wildfires in Oregon have claimed eight lives and another 16 people are missing according the Oregon Office of Emergency Management. More than 1000 homes have been destroyed and thousands of people have been evacuated.
If your property has been damaged – whether from wildfire or wind – you’re probably thinking about cleanup. Help is on the way. But right now, the best way to protect your health is to wait to clean up.
"When the air has cleared and it's safe for our employees to return to work, we will be ready to help,” said Metro Council President Lynn Peterson. “At this point, we're urging people to leave their debris alone – wait for information about asbestos screening and safe removal of anything that might be hazardous to the people who make sure the debris is safely disposed of."
Metro is working with government partners to find ways to dispose of burned materials and wildfire ash that protect your health, workers’ health and the health of our communities.
Wildfire debris and ash can be very hazardous.
When wildfire burns houses, sheds and other structures, it incinerates hazardous materials that end up in the ash. This ash can contain toxic chemicals like pesticides, motor oil and paint. Older houses may have asbestos, a dangerous substance that can cause health problems if inhaled.
In the aftermath of a wildfire disaster, downed power lines and sharp objects can also be buried in the debris. In order to clean up your property safely, you will need a professional to identify electrical and structural hazards, as well as any toxic chemicals or asbestos fibers.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is working to make it as easy as possible to get fire-affected properties assessed for safe removal of debris. Staff will be ready to help when wildfire conditions improve.
Until your property can be checked for hazards, do not attempt to remove fire debris. Do not use a leaf blower to remove ash, as it can make hazardous chemicals airborne. And do not involve children in any part of wildfire debris cleanup.
This is for your health, the health of your neighbors and the health of people who will handle the debris once it’s ready for disposal.
Check Metro’s fire cleanup site and DEQ’s site for updates and resources as they become available.