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Debris from Multiple 2020 Regional Wildfires

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The Incidents

Over a span of multiple weeks beginning in early September of 2020, several devastating wildfires burned through southern Oregon and northern California.

  • Almeda Fire, impacting Ashland, Talent, and Phoenix, Oregon
  • Obenchain Fire, impacting Butte Falls, Oregon
  • Two Four Two Fire, impacting Klamath County, Oregon
  • Slater Fire, impacting Siskiyou and Del Norte Counties in northern California, and Josephine County, Oregon

The sheer size of these fires left an unprecedented amount of debris material — material that had to be safely disposed of so communities could begin to recover. Dry Creek Landfill took quick action to accommodate the need for proper management and safe disposal of this debris.

The Response

Dry Creek Landfill accepted wildfire debris from private contractors conducting cleanup of residential and commercial properties, as well as through the FEMA cleanup processes that were administered locally by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and CalRecycle.

Working with our regulatory and governmental partners, Dry Creek Landfill developed multiple guidance documents to answer questions and help streamline the process, including:

  • Dry Creek Landfill (DCL) Wildfire Acceptance Procedure
  • Rogue Transfer & Recycling (RTR) Wildfire Acceptance Procedure
  • DCL and RTR Wildfire Debris Information
  • Wildfire Debris Disposal Checklist

In addition, all of the necessary forms and information were made available on a special, easily accessed section of Dry Creek Landfill’s website.

With cleanup efforts underway at multiple sites, Dry Creek opened a temporary second scale system to handle the volume of incoming trucks. This site was in operation from January through May of 2021.

Due to the nature of the debris, testing protocols had to be completed prior to waste being accepted at the landfill. This included a material survey and composite samples analyzed for total petroleum hydrocarbons and heavy metals. Commercial properties were required to complete a special waste profile form, and additional testing was required based on the material destroyed in the fire. Cleanup by ODOT and CalRecycle included a preliminary survey and removal of hazardous materials, which enabled a more streamlined waste acceptance flow for the fire debris.

Throughout the months of cleanup, Dry Creek personnel also continued to accept and dispose of the normal municipal waste stream from Jackson County and neighboring jurisdictions. And this was all done during the COVID-19 pandemic, with additional rules and regulations in place.

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Key Stats

On September 8, 2020, the Almeda fire burned a 13-mile northern path in Jackson County, Oregon, beginning in Ashland before finally being stopped just south of Medford.

  • Driven by winds over 40 mph, the Almeda fire burned more than 3,000 acres and destroyed an estimated 2,357 residential structures, including 1,748 manufactured homes

While firefighters were busy fighting the Almeda fire, the South Obenchain fire ignited less than 25 miles away.

  • The Obenchain Fire burned 32,671 acres in Jackson County, Oregon and destroyed almost 90 structures in the cities of Shady Cover, Butte Falls, and Eagle Point

The Two Four Two Fire started on September 7, 2020, near Collier State Park in Klamath County, Oregon.

  • The fire eventually covered more than 12,500 acres, with 70 structures damaged and 35 destroyed

The Slater Fire began on September 8, 2020, just north of the town of Happy Camp, California.

  • The fire spread to more than 157,000 acres in Northern California and Southern Oregon. More than 700 structures were destroyed.

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