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Property owners need to fill out fire debris cleanup questionnaire

Property owners who want fire debris cleaned from their land for free need to complete a questionnaire that will help crews plan and schedule upcoming work.

The Environmental Protection Agency already finished picking hazardous materials out of debris left behind by the Almeda fire and South Obenchain fire in Jackson County.

The state of Oregon is managing the removal of the rest of the debris. That massive job kicks off Monday, Jan. 4.

Most property owners already filled out right-of-entry forms to allow government-funded crews onto their land for hazardous and general debris removal.

But the state needs specific information to help guide cleanup efforts, including how many buildings were on a property, the number of burned vehicles and the locations of underground tanks and foundations.

Property owners should watch for a letter or email from the Oregon Wildfire Recovery Debris Management Task Force with instructions on how to access the questionnaire. They should complete the questionnaire as soon as possible, state officials said.

The questionnaire is available online at wildfire.oregon.gov/cleanup. Call the wildfire hotline at 503-934-1700 if you are not able to complete the questionnaire online.

The questionnaire is available in multiple languages and formats.

Property owners who haven’t yet signed a right-of-entry form to allow government-funded crews on their land can do so by visiting that website or calling that number.

Property owners can opt in to the general debris cleanup even if they didn’t join the government-funded hazardous waste cleanup, state officials said.

The first part of the general debris cleanup involves crews removing dead or dying trees that pose a safety risk to workers or public rights of way, state officials said.

The next part involves removing ash, structural debris and other material from home and business properties, officials said.

Once work is completed, property owners will receive a notice that the property is ready for rebuilding, officials said.

In Jackson County, the national disaster cleanup company AshBritt and its subcontractors will carry out the general debris cleanup.

In the worst case scenario, finishing the cleanup on the last properties could take 18 months, Jackson County officials said.

Jackson County has created a priority list for cleanup.

Some of the first properties to be cleared will be mobile home parks and a subdivision, which will pave the way for replacing a large number of houses.

The Almeda fire destroyed nearly 2,500 homes in September, primarily in Phoenix and Talent. More than 170 business structures were destroyed.

The rural South Obenchain fire in northern Jackson County destroyed more than 30 homes plus more than 50 additional structures, such as outbuildings.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.