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Deadline nears to sign up for free fire debris removal

The deadline to sign up for free cleanup of Almeda and South Obenchain fire debris is June 7. Jamie Lusch/Mail Tribune

The deadline to sign up for free removal of Almeda and South Obenchain fire debris in Jackson County is June 7.

Property owners need to submit a right-of-entry form to allow state-funded contractors onto their land to clean up debris.

To submit a form or for more information, visit wildfire.oregon.gov/cleanup or call the wildfire debris cleanup hotline at 503-934-1700.

Crews have finished cleaning more than 1,400 home sites impacted by the Almeda fire. Those represent 80% of all homes sites currently enrolled in the program, officials said.

As the work wraps up, crews will move on to other parts of the state impacted by Oregon’s devastating 2020 fires.

On-the-ground work started in January to remove general debris like ash and structural debris, hazardous trees, concrete foundations and burned vehicles. Five months in, most of the work is done.

“We had initially identified a six to 18 month timeline for completion of cleanup in the Almeda fire area but through our partnerships between the state, Jackson County and the cities of Talent and Phoenix, we have made significant strides in approaching completion closer to the 6-month mark,” said John Vial, director of the Jackson County Emergency Operations Center. “Now we want to make sure that any property owner who wants to participate in the no-cost program does not miss their chance.”

Crews are beginning cleanup work on about 15 properties in the South Obenchain fire area that have joined in the free cleanup.

Once cleanup crews finish their work on a property, the land is ready for rebuilding. The property owner will receive a letter from the state of Oregon saying the property cleanup is completed.

The government-funded cleanup is being monitored to ensure compliance with environmental laws.

Both business and residential properties are eligible for the program.