Oregon Department of Transportation crews are removing hazardous trees from the McKenzie Highway corridor affected by the Holiday Farm Fire.
Highway 126 was hammered by the wind-driven fire, which swept through the valley on Labor Day. Kevin Finch is on-scene incident commander for ODOT’s debris removal team. He said, initially, they worked to clear the highway of downed trees and debris. Now they’re removing trees that might fall down in the future.
“As hot as this fire was, the amount of damage that occurred, there are trees still out there that are hazardous to the travelling public, to residents, people that are working out there,” Finch said. “There are still hazards out there. And that’s what we’re in there doing now.”
Finch said some property owners have questioned ODOT’s plans for tree removal. Finch says they’ll reassess some of the trees a contractor had initially marked to come down. He said he’d like to hear from people who have questions about tree removal, but, he added.
“I would hate to get through this project and find out a tree fell down that we should have taken out and we thought maybe we should have taken it out and it hurt somebody, worse yet killed somebody.”
Finch told KLCC the hazard tree removal project could take a full year. They have more than 22 miles of highway to go over and they’ve so far been able to get about three miles done since the beginning of January.
Finch said travelers should expect delays through multiple work zones.
“People are getting a little upset about that but you know we got to get the work done. And if you do go up there please drive the speed limit. We have a speed reduction. It’s 45 miles an hour," Finch said. "I’ve asked for law enforcement help up there. I know they’re up there.”
Finch requested people avoid driving the McKenzie Highway if they can because it is a work zone, as recovery from the devastating fire continues.
Those with concerns about tree removal can contact the Debris Management Task Force for the Holiday Farm Fire:
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