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Oregon Wildfire Recovery – Wildfire Cleanup and Debris Removal

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What’s next for people whose homes or businesses burned?

Getting started

The State of Oregon is working with federal, state and local partners to safely address ash and debris from the 2020 Oregon wildfires. Removing fire debris is a two-step cleanup process. Step 1 is clearing properties of household hazardous waste to minimize exposure of hazardous materials to the public. Step 2 is removal of ash, debris and burned-out structures. Step 2 is removal of ash and debris.

If you want cleanup teams to remove hazardous waste from your property at no cost, you must complete a Right of Entry form with your county. Your other choice is to opt out of the assisted cleanup, meaning you will pay for and complete cleanup on your own.


Step 1: Household hazardous waste removal – No cost to property owners

Before you can rebuild, your property must be cleared of household hazardous waste or other hazardous substances. Crews from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will visit properties, determine what hazardous materials need to be removed, and remove them for safe disposal. This service is funded by federal and state government and provided free of charge to property owners in Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn and Marion counties.

Household hazardous waste includes fuel, car batteries, antifreeze, paint, bleach, fertilizers, pesticides, propane tanks, disinfectants, aerosols, solvents, used oil filters, pool chemicals, ammunition and more. Crews will also safely identify and dispose of large pieces of asbestos materials.

Questions or concerns? Call EPA’s hazardous waste removal hotline, available in English and Spanish 8 a.m.-8 p.m., 7 days a week: 541-255-5549

IMPORTANT: Property owners must sign an access agreement, called a Right of Entry form, to allow cleanup crews onto their property. We encourage residents to submit Right of Entry forms quickly so cleanup can begin as soon as possible. Residents can still submit Right of Entry forms after the original Oct. 16 deadline. For more information about how to submit your Right of Entry form, visit your county’s website below or call 682-800-5737.

Step 2: Ash and debris removal - Oregon is currently developing funding options for Step 2

Ash and debris removal (Step 2) cannot begin until household hazardous waste removal (Step 1) is complete. State, county, and federal partners are actively working to develop funding and implementation options for ash and debris removal. Check back here for the latest information as it develops.



Frequently asked questions

The State of Oregon’s Debris Management Task Force is overseeing a coordinated effort by federal, state, and local government agencies to address hazardous waste and debris removal. The task force consists of the Office of Emergency Management, Oregon Department of Transportation and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Step 1: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will assess and remove household hazardous waste from burned-out properties. This work will be funded by FEMA and the State of Oregon. State, county and federal partners are actively working to develop options for Step 2: Ash and debris removal.

The Step 1: Household hazardous waste removal will be provided at no cost to property owners. Federal and state governments are covering the costs of household hazardous waste removal. Property owners must sign an access agreement, called a Right of Entry form, to allow cleanup crews onto their property. Contact your county to find more information about how to submit your access agreement or call 682-800-5737.

State, county, and federal partners are actively working to develop funding and implementation options for Step 2: Ash and debris removal.

Federal, state and local government agencies will not recoup insurance money designated for rebuilding your home.

State and county agencies are required by FEMA to make an effort to recoup specific debris removal funds or general insurance funds only after the property owner has rebuilt. This is to ensure there is not a duplication of benefits.

There are two types of debris removal coverages in a property owner’s insurance policy:

Specified amount for debris removal: Some insurance policies have specific funds for debris removal. If federal, state or local agencies lead the ash and debris removal effort, they will try to recoup the funds specifically designated for debris removal—but only these funds. They will not try to recoup funds that could go toward rebuilding. On the other hand, if you do cleanup on your own, the cleanup cost will likely exceed the amount of debris funds in your policy, and you will have to make up the difference. Doing the cleanup on your own will cost more than using the state and county-led program, and could reduce the amount of insurance money you have available to rebuild your home.

No specified amount for debris removal: Many insurance policies do not have specific debris removal funds. If federal, state or local agencies lead the ash and debris removal effort, they will only ask for insurance funds after the property owner has rebuilt their home, if insurance funds are still available. If insurance funds have been used up during rebuilding, there will be no cost to the homeowner. If you do cleanup on your own, cleanup costs will come out of your total insurance coverage and will reduce the amount of money you have to rebuild your home.

Yes. You just need to do sign your county’s Right of Entry form to allow cleanup crews onto your property.

If you have insurance questions, contact Oregon’s Insurance Commission Consumer Advocate Hotline: 888-877-4894. It is good practice to keep all receipts for any costs you pay for on your own.

Oregon’s Debris Management Task Force strongly urges individual property owners not to remove hazardous materials and debris themselves because of the cost and the potential risks to health and safety. Doing the cleanup on your own will cost more than using the state and county-led program, and could reduce the amount of insurance money you have available to rebuild your home.

Removal of household hazardous waste and debris can be an expensive process, costing as much as $75,000. Even with insurance, a majority of this cost may not be covered. Removal of household hazardous waste is being offered to property owns for no cost, which means that property owners can reserve their insurance funds for other recovery efforts. Removal of household hazardous waste is Step 1 in the cleanup process. State, county, and federal partners are actively working to develop funding and implementation options for Step 2: Ash and debris removal.

Learn more about how to participate in the state- and county-led cleanup program by contacting your county or by visiting wildfire.oregon.gov/cleanup

No, these are two separate processes.FEMA Individual Assistance is an important additional resource, but you do not need to apply or be approved for FEMA assistance before signing your Right of Entry form to get free removal of household hazardous waste.

Businesses are included in hazardous waste removal funded by FEMA and the State of Oregon (Step 1). State, local, and federal partners are actively developing funding and implementation options for ash and debris removal (Step 2). Commercial properties need pre-approvals from FEMA for ash and debris removal. Oregon does not currently have this pro-approval. Please check back here for updates.

If you choose to clean up hazardous materials, it will be at your own cost. Removal of household hazardous waste and debris can be an incredibly expensive process, costing as much as $75,000. Even with insurance, a majority of this cost may not be covered. The state and federal government is committed to paying for removal of household hazardous waste, which means that property owners can reserve their insurance funds for other recovery efforts.

DEQ and EPA strongly urge individual property owners not to remove hazardous materials and debris themselves because of the potential risks to health and safety. However, if you take on cleanup yourself, please do the following:

  • Contact your county or call 682-800-5737 to opt out of the assisted cleanup.
  • Contact your insurance provider before you begin cleanup to learn of requirements they may have for reimbursement.
  • Contact your county or city code enforcement agency to determine their cleanup requirements for new construction permits.
  • Determine if the ash and debris contain asbestos. Many homes and buildings have materials with asbestos. State rules govern various aspects of managing and removing asbestos. You can hire an accredited inspector to survey your property for asbestos-containing materials, or you can presume that all debris and ash contain asbestos. DEQ strongly recommends hiring a licensed abatement contractor to perform any abatement activities. Asbestos is a known carcinogen and there is no known safe level of exposure. Refer to guidance on DEQ's asbestos webpage or contact DEQ prior to starting any ash or debris cleanup activities.
  • Contact your local waste disposal site to learn what requirements they have for waste acceptance. Many landfills require specific documentation of the waste you drop off so they can handle it properly and comply with regulations. This can include lab results to determine what hazardous materials are in your debris. If you do not have the proper documentation, you may not be allowed to dispose of your debris.
  • Cover ash and debris loads during transport.
  • Asbestos containing waste materials must be packaged properly for transport and disposal. This means double bagging the material in 6 mil plastic sheeting, and labeling it as asbestos.
  • Recycle metal, concrete and wood debris. Clean recyclable materials with water prior to transport to reduce the spread of asbestos or other contaminants in the ash. Do not discharge water containing ash into the stormwater system or surface waters, as it can cause water quality issues.
  • Follow safety precautions outlined here.

Yes. The property owner just needs to sign an access agreement to allow cleanup crews on their property. The access agreement is called a Right of Entry form. Personal information will not be shared with the federal government. Contact your county to find more information about how to submit your access agreement.

If you choose to return to your property, follow these safety tips to protect yourself and your family.

Your county will be working with EPA and DEQ to track progress on property cleanup. Check with your county for the latest information.





Why this process is important

We understand that, as Oregonians, we want to return to our communities and begin the recovery process. Waiting for a larger process to get set up can seem frustrating, but there are important reasons for doing this.

1. Save Money

Removal of household hazardous waste and debris can be an incredibly expensive process, costing as much as $75,000. Even with insurance, a majority of this cost may not be covered. The state is committed to paying for removal of household hazardous waste, which means that property owners can reserve their insurance funds for other recovery efforts.

2. FEMA Reimbursement and Eligibility

FEMA does not work directly with individual property owners on cleanup work. FEMA will only work with and reimburse the state or county for cleanup work.

3. Threat to Your Health

Doing your own cleanup without proper protection puts your health at risk. Burned materials are hazardous and require more than gloves and a mask to protect your health. Buildings constructed before 2004 are likely to contain asbestos, which is carcinogenic.

4. Difficult to Dispose

Many landfills require specific documentation of the waste people drop off so they can handle it properly and comply with their regulation. This can include lab results to determine what hazardous materials are in your debris. If you do not have the proper documentation, you may not be allowed to dispose of your debris.

Additional Resources