☑ Weekly Update - March 5, 2021
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General Operation Updates
Two months into Step 2 (ash and debris cleanup) the number of home sites ready to rebuild is steadily increasing and work continues to ramp up with site preparation and testing work mostly complete throughout the state. Calls for urgency are heard and serve as a driving force for the continued increase in pace and scale of debris removal efforts so we can get Oregonians ready to rebuild as soon as possible. We are operating at a more efficient pace than standard national wildfire recovery operations, just two months into ash and debris removal and with hazardous waste work complete. With drier, warmer weather on the horizon, operations will continue accelerating in the coming months. The number of crews in the field have doubled and environmental assessment processes continue to be streamlined where possible. Our crews are finding creative ways to optimize procedures, like processing some metal debris on-site to save hauling times.
We know no pace is fast enough given the urgent task at hand. However, our crews continue working efficiently and safely to deliver on the initial 6-18- month timeline. Work efforts focused in southern Oregon have been prioritized according to the scale of destruction, impact to a dense urban area and overall link to other recovery steps. This meant possible slight delays in other areas as required environmental testing and site preparation efforts were completed elsewhere in the state and as work ramped up. While the amount of time required for work is never a satisfying response for impacted communities, our crews continue to innovate and apply swift solutions every day to address challenges related to safety, weather, traffic control, local landfill capacity, difficult terrain and property access, and other logistics. You can track their progress through our interactive status map and dashboard.
We manage a scalable operation which allows the Debris Management Task Force (DMTF) to increase the number of crews in one area as operations continue. Now that we’re mostly past the startup phase, increasing on-the-ground crew numbers will continue. Our goal is to begin work in one area first and then increase the number of crews and work sites from there, “hopscotching” from site-to site. For instance, using this hopscotch method in southern Oregon, crews were previously working in one mobile home park property and are now working in seven.
The DMTF continues to find creative ways to help communities through recovery work as efficiently as possible. Task Force staff continue to find ways to give back to Oregon. Staff are donating trees to the Jackson County Fuel Committee in southern Oregon so that families have access to warm homes. Crews are adjusting operations so that hazard trees can be removed next to the McKenzie School District campus so that classes can resume quickly. We’re revising operations so that sites can be cleared for short-term housing in southern Oregon as soon as possible. Stay tuned for these and other upcoming stories here at debriscleanupnews.com.
By the Numbers
We estimate it will take between 6-18 months to complete work on all properties. In total, this work will require marking and cutting nearly 290,000 hazard trees and removing ash and debris from approximately 1,600 participating properties.
Below is a summary of the work that has been completed thus far:
Current “By the Number” 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.
Beachie Creek/Lionshead Fire areas
Santiam River corridor, primarily in Marion and Linn counties, Highway 22 and adjacent area
Crews are slated to tackle more than 20 sites this week as debris removal work continues and is now underway in Detroit. Early phases of debris removal work are also underway in the Gates area, including chimney tipping to allow for asbestos testing. Environmental testing and prep work continue, as does hazard tree marking on impacted properties and the surrounding area, allowing hazard tree removal to begin.
Echo Mountain Fire area
Lincoln County, Lincoln City area, Highway 18 and adjacent area
Work orders are increasing as more crews move to this area to continue ash and debris removal work, now averaging 1.5 to two home sites cleaned per day. Hazard tree removal work on impacted properties continues to make way for the start of debris removal.
Holiday Farm Fire area
Lane County, McKenzie River area, Highway 126
Work on ash and debris removal continues to increase on more properties along the corridor. To help schools reopen quickly, crews have adjusted schedules to remove hazard trees near the McKenzie School District. You will continue to see stark differences in the landscape as hazard tree removal continues, including work at Ben and Kay Dorris State Park. Crews continue coordination with property owners on hazard trees.
Riverside Fire area
Estacada area, Clackamas County, Highways 224 and 211
Hazard tree marking continues in state right of way areas while crews continue moving and “chipping” branches and woody debris. Ash and debris removal prep work continues, including asbestos testing and chimney tipping. Hazard tree work was completed ahead of schedule in what were spotted owl nesting areas to avoid nesting season. Highway 224 east and southeast of Estacada, along the Clackamas River, remains closed.
Almeda Drive Fire area
Medford/Talent/Phoenix, Jackson County, Highway 99 and Interstate 5
Crews are currently working in seven different mobile home parks including Bear Creek Mobile Home Park (Ashland); Bear Lake Estates (Phoenix); Mountain View Estates (Talent); Talent Mobile Estates (Talent, a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) direct housing property); Rogue Valley Mobile Village (Medford, a FEMA direct housing property); Whispering Pines Mobile Home Park (Medford); and Royal Oaks Mobile Manor (Medford) where vehicles are being removed. Debris removal work is also underway at Oak Crest Way in Medford, which includes 13 single-family homes. Reconstruction and rebuilding on the Bear Lake Estates property in Phoenix will begin immediately.
In the coming weeks, we expect to have crews working on even more properties as we partner with the local Regional Debris Task Force to identify priority areas and double operations in the coming weeks. Air quality monitoring continues for the safety of those remaining in the area. Asbestos testing continues to move swiftly, paving the way for quick transitions to debris removal. Trees being cut from the Almeda Drive Fire are being put to good use.
Archie Creek Fire area
Douglas County, Highway 138
As prioritized by county partners, debris removal has begun on private properties with an initial focus on the Rock Creek Rd. area. Hazard tree removal is prioritized and underway with tree-marking and tree-cutting work between mileposts 27-29 in identified spotted owl nesting areas to avoid nesting season. The steep and difficult terrain requires an extra level of diligence, safety and time in the area for staging and hauling.
Thielsen Fire area
Eastern Douglas County, Highway 138
Due to higher elevation snow, operations will increase later this spring focused on hazard tree removal in warmer weather. Contractor coordination and planning work continues.
242 Fire area
Klamath County, Highways 62 and 97
Thankfully, there are few fire-impacted properties in the area, although hazard tree marking continues and debris site preparation continues where needed. Crews and DMTF staff continue working with tribal partners to align operations with tribal customs and requests. Coordination continues with our colleagues at Oregon Parks and Recreation for removing hazard trees on state park land.
Topics of the Week
The House Special Committee on Wildfire Recovery heard a status update from Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Director Kris Strickler on Monday, March 1. DMTF Leader Mac Lynde and Northern Oregon Operations Chief Anna Hensen also presented to the Lincoln County Commission about progress in the Echo Mountain Fire area. Watch these updates for helpful and valuable information about current progress.
Staff joined Thursday night’s McKenzie River Locals Helping Locals public forum where panelists from the DMTF, McKenzie Watershed Council and Lane County provided a brief update on progress in the area before diving into a one hour question and answer session. As many residents lost their computers and do not have access to internet, these in-person updates provide value to those still getting back on their feet. We will continue to partner with McKenzie River Locals Helping Locals to attend public forums like these in the future.
Air Quality Monitoring Report | 2/22 - 2/28
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:
Number of properties that had air sampling: 4
Number of air samples collected: 15
Results above action level: 0
Visual monitoring: no recorded dust levels that exceeded action levels
Echo Mountain Fire
Number of properties that had air sampling: 2
Number of air samples collected: 18
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 Debris Management Task Force at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.