© 2024 KLCC

136 W 8th Ave
Eugene OR 97401

Contact Us

FCC Applications
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Returning Evacuees Urged To Be Safe When Sorting Through Razed Homes

Brian Bull

While crews continue to fight the Holiday Farm Fire and others around the state, evacuation notices for the region are being downgraded.  Officials are warning evacuees to be careful coming home. 

As residents of the McKenzie River Corridor return to their home areas, they’re asked to beware of ash that may contain asbestos, mercury, and other harmful materials.

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Debris litters a destroyed residence in Phoenix, Oregon.

Lane County spokesperson Devon Ashbridge said kids should not be involved in cleaning up, nor should people move dry ash or debris around.

“It should be wetted to control dust before it becomes airborne," Ashbridge told KLCC.

"And folks should be wearing the proper protective equipment. So the cloth face coverings that we’re all wearing for COVID, really are not adequate for filtering out fine, airborne ash or asbestos fibers.”

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Downed utility pole in Talent, Oregon.

Displaced residents of areas damaged by recent fires are advised to wear gloves, disposable coveralls, thick-soled boots, and N95 face masks when coming back.  

Ashbridge warned there could also be electrical hazards at a damaged homestead.

“Assume all downed power lines are active even if power is out in the area. It is possible that if someone in the area has hooked up a generator to their home, it could charge lines all in that area, it could still pose a hazard.”

A fire-damaged residence may also have melted septic tanks or damaged trees that pose additional threats.

People are advised to get licensed contractors to help with repairs, as well as contact their insurance companies first thing upon coming back.

Copyright 2020, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
Related Content