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Weekly Update - July 23, 2021

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General Operation Updates

As the Bootleg Fire burns in southern Oregon, requiring countless evacuations and destroying homes and structures in its path, it is important to note the federal process for determining eligibility for state wildfire debris removal costs and if costs for removing debris from these destroyed home sites are eligible for federal reimbursement. If a fire is large enough, often with $5.8 million or more in structural damage used as a baseline, the Governor can request a major disaster declaration from the President. This process would then be coordinated through the Oregon Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and a damage assessment would occur between the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the State of Oregon and local jurisdictions to determine eligibility and next steps.

The loss of any home, structure or life to wildfire is heartbreaking and devastating. As the process currently stands, if hundreds or thousands of homes or critical public infrastructure are destroyed, there is a potential that FEMA debris removal reimbursement could be approved. State funds can be and have been used for debris cleanup costs; however, covering debris cleanup costs connected to the 2021 wildfire season would be a policy decision and discussion for state lawmakers to deliberate on. The Debris Management Task Force (Task Force) continues to support Oregon as we recover and rebuild from the 2020 wildfires and look to the future. Task Force and Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) leadership also appreciated learning that Governor Kate Brown hosted FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell this week as they discussed the Bootleg Fire.

The presence of many wildfires on the landscape often creates a large volume of information from many different sources. It can be difficult to track the various roles, responsibilities and who owns or manages which areas. For a general snapshot of statewide wildfire activity, news and contact information, Inciweb is a great place to start. The Oregon Department of Forestry fire blog also provides a helpful perspective on news and the latest updates. OEM has also created a webpage of other fire-related resources packaged in one central place.

At ODOT and the Task Force, our thoughts and support go out to all of the Oregon and national communities experiencing the current trauma of wildfire activity. Our deepest gratitude also goes out to the brave women and men fighting these massive fires as they work to protect Oregon communities and the beautiful places that make our state the special place we all call home.

By the Numbers

Step 2 of removing tree hazards began in December 2020 and will progress through multiple impacted areas simultaneously. We estimate it will take up to 18 months to complete all properties. In total, this work will require marking and cutting more than 150,000 hazard trees and removing ash and debris from nearly1,400 participating properties.

Below is a summary of the work that has been completed thus far:

Current “By the Numbers” updates are available on the debris and tree removal data dashboard. The interactive status map on the same page provides a visual of all work underway.


Northern Operations

Beachie Creek/Lionshead Fire areas Santiam River corridor, primarily in Marion and Linn counties, Highway 22 and adjacent area Debris removal 47% complete; hazard tree removal 38% complete

  • Hazard tree cutting and removal work is underway at milepost 39.

Echo Mountain Fire area Lincoln County, Lincoln City area, Highway 18 and adjacent area Debris removal 89% complete; hazard tree removal 61% complete

(remainder of trees are primarily on property sites participating in the state program)

  • With more properties having opted in since the deadline, work is nearly complete while a few areas await household hazardous waste and property hazard tree removal.

Holiday Farm Fire area Lane County, McKenzie River area, Highway 126 Debris removal 77% complete; hazard tree removal 74% complete

  • Hazard tree assessment and removal work is underway at mileposts 26 and 29, and on private properties where crews are removing debris. Tree assessments and marking activities are also underway in the Good Pasture Road area.

Riverside Fire area Estacada area, Clackamas County, Highways 224 and 211 Debris removal 66% complete; hazard tree removal 19% complete

  • Due to falling rocks, trees launching from steep slopes and other safety hazards, Highway 224 remains closed. Crews continue to work quickly in efforts to reopen the highway.


Southern Operations

Almeda Drive Fire area Medford/Talent/Phoenix, Jackson County, Highway 99 and Interstate 5 Debris removal 98% complete; hazard tree removal 62% complete (remaining hazard trees primarily on private properties participating in the program)

Archie Creek Fire area Douglas County, Highway 138 Debris removal 90% complete; hazard tree removal 33% complete

  • Highway 138 is now open following fire activity closures. Hazard tree helicopter operations are underway at milepost 23.

South Obenchain Fire area Jackson County, northeast of Eagle Point, Highways 62 and 140 Debris removal 100% complete; hazard tree removal on private property 28% complete

Thielsen Fire area Eastern Douglas County, Highway 138 Debris removal N/A; hazard tree removal 84% complete

  • Highway 138 is now open following fire activity closures. Fire activity had only temporary impacts on Thielsen Fire area operations, however work will be paused for the rest of this week.

242 Fire area Klamath County, Highways 62 and 97 Debris removal 25% complete for the 12 total home sites; hazard tree removal 15% complete


Topics of the Week


Air Quality Monitoring Report | 7/12 - 7/18

Local environmental health is one of our top priorities. In addition to conducting required asbestos testing in an efficient manner for all debris removal home sites, state contractors are visually monitoring and controlling dust to protect air quality during ash and debris cleanup work. If dust issues occur, our crews will stop work and fix the issue before resuming to protect public health. You can view the latest soil sampling FAQs on our news page. Questions about dust from private contractors are not part of state cleanup work and can be directed to local city and county public health departments.

Each week, contractors report their visual monitoring results, and the testing labs report their sample test results for active work areas. Recent results include:

Almeda Fire

  • Number of properties that had air sampling: 2

  • Number of air samples collected: 12

  • Results above action level: 0

  • Visual monitoring: no recorded dust levels that exceeded action levels

Holiday Farm Fire

  • Number of properties that had air sampling: 1

  • Number of air samples collected: 3

  • Results above action level: 0

  • Visual monitoring: no recorded dust levels that exceeded action levels


The “action level” is the threshold for action at a site, or from a lab test result. Learn more about action levels, how we control dust and test air samples in our air quality monitoring FAQ.

For specific air quality monitoring data, email Liz McIntire with the DMTF at


If you have questions about hazard tree removal in your community, our hotline can help point you in the right direction. Please access information from your local county government first, and then call our hotline at 503-934-1700 if you need more information.



Wildfire waste and debris removal

The State of Oregon is working with federal, state and local partners to remove hazardous waste, and ash and debris from the 2020 Oregon wildfires safely, efficiently, and as quickly as possible. The Oregon Departments of Transportation, Environmental Quality and Emergency Management are leading the effort, with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assistance.

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