JACKSON COUNTY — Environmental crews are focusing on cleaning up hazardous materials in southern Oregon at mobile home parks and communities with clusters of manufactured homes that were particularly hard hit in devastating wildfires last month, officials announced Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Workers will comb through debris looking for paint, batteries and other toxic household materials in a cleanup effort that began over the weekend, said John Vial, a spokesman for Jackson County, where the Almeda fire destroyed more than 4,000 structures in parts of Ashland, Phoenix, Talent and Medford.
“The cities of Talent and Phoenix look like a war zone and they need to be cleaned up,” Vial said at a news conference.
Property owners must submit “right of entry” forms to the county before crews can start their work. Vial said Jackson County had mailed out nearly 1,000 forms and gotten responses to nearly two-thirds, but he stressed that the free cleanup cannot begin without the completed forms.
People can find copies of the forms at the state’s wildfire cleanup website and a hotline had been set up, with instructions in English and Spanish, at 541-225-5549.
The work is being led by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
The hazardous waste will be collected and taken to a licensed disposal facility likely out of state, officials said.
Once this preliminary cleanup is complete, property owners can begin cleaning up ash and other debris from the sites of burned down homes and businesses.
Similar hazardous waste cleanup is expected to begin as early as next week in Marion County, where the Beachie Creek and Lionshead fires burned through multiple communities in the Santiam Canyon.