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Jackson County warns that burned home sites are hazardous

Jackson County is warning people who have lost their homes to recent fires that ash and debris can be hazardous, especially when particles are inhaled.

Fire ash may contain toxic chemicals such as asbestos, mercury, lead, cadmium and chromium. Other hazards include sharp objects and downed power lines.

Government agencies are still assessing hazards and will assist with the safe removal of ash, debris and hazardous substances from areas impacted by fires.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality recommends that people not disturb ash or debris on their property until after it’s been assessed by hazardous materials response professionals.

Residents are advised to stay away from the sites of burned structures.

If you must visit a burn site, use extreme caution and follow this guidance:

  • Keep kids away.

  • Beware of downed power lines or other electrical sources
  • Beware of unstable surfaces and sharp objects buried in the ash. Wear sturdy boots.
  • Disturb ash as little as possible. Ash must be wetted to control dust before sweeping. When cleaning with water, don’t allow ash to run into stormwater drains or creeks.
  • Wear a properly fitted N95 or KN95 respirator. Cloth face coverings, paper masks or bandanas are not effective at filtering out fine ash, dust or asbestos. Free N95 masks are available from the American Red Cross at The Expo, 1 Peninger Road, Central Point, near I-5 Exit 33.
  • Wear heavy duty work gloves and goggles. If possible, wear disposable coveralls and dispose of them after use. Free debris-sifting kits are available from the Red Cross at The Expo.
  • Wash any recovered personal items to remove potentially toxic dust.

Officials warn that burned home sites can contain hazardous materials like lead and asbestos.{ }Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch