April 20, 2024

Fire at 8800 block of Otty Road / Asbestos awareness

UPDATE (9/16/23; 1:30 p.m.): Clackamas Fire has canceled the shelter-in-place order for the 1/4 mile radius from 8855 SE Otty Road. 8810 and 8820 SE Otty Road continue to remain under an evacuation order.      

The county is working to relocate and provide support for the affected individuals. 

The building is owned by the Clackamas County Development Agency. The county has a contract in place to demolish the building and anticipated beginning that work over the next several weeks. Recent testing found the presence of asbestos in the building’s materials, and the contract was being adjusted for the proper disposal of those materials. 

About asbestos

The following information comes from the Department of Environment Quality:

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral. It is often found at low levels in some soils. Asbestos was used widely in building materials throughout the last century. The risk from asbestos in the air is low. In people with long-term exposure, it has been found to cause cancer and lung-related health issues. Most people are exposed to some asbestos over the course of their lives and very few have any health problems because of it.

How to safely dispose of ash and debris that may contain asbestos

  • Do not sweep or use a vacuum or power washer to clean up debris
  • Wear the best face mask you have — N95 preferred
  • Wear disposable gloves
  • Gently soak the debris with a spray bottle or garden hose
  • Pick up the debris with gloves on and place in a plastic garbage bag
  • Place the bag in a second garbage bag, tie it at the top and seal it. The bag may be placed in your household garbage.
  • Wash hands, arms and clothes when finished

Additional Resources

FAQs for the Otty Road Fire and Those Evacuated or Affected by Fire or Air Quality

Debris and ash from a commercial fire on Sept. 16 in the 8800 block of SE Otty Road may have blown into the surrounding neighborhoods. There is the possibility that the debris and ash may contain asbestos.

Where did this happen and who has been evacuated?

The address of the incident is 8855 SE Otty Road in Happy Valley, Oregon.   
Clackamas Fire District #1 (CFD1) issued an evacuation advisory for two buildings in the immediate vicinity at 8810 and 8820 S.E. Otty Road.

What is the government doing?

The building is owned by the Clackamas County Development Agency. Clackamas Fire District #1 (CFD1) and Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office responded immediately once notified of the fire. Clackamas County has activated its Emergency Operations Center to coordinate incident response efforts. This includes public notifications, debris management, air quality monitoring, and working to relocate and provide support for the affected individuals.

What are the health risks associated with the smoke and air quality?   

Poor air quality due to fire and smoke can cause health problems for people with chronic lung or heart conditions, older adults, and children. Fine particles in smoke also may affect people suffering from asthma and other respiratory conditions.

If you have been exposed to smoke and are experiencing physical symptoms such as light-headedness, dizziness, headaches, or difficulty breathing, please seek medical care immediately.

Is it safe to go outside?

The air quality in the surrounding area is being evaluated for any potential risks to human health. It is recommended that individuals near the fire limit their exposure to smoky air, reduce time spent outdoors, and avoid debris.

What should I do if I see ash or debris?    

It’s not advised to clean ash or debris up yourself. Please contact the county at EOCOperations@clackamas.us with specific details about the location and debris. If you see ash or debris, keep children and pets away until it has been cleaned.

If I decide to go ahead and clean up the ash and debris myself, how should I do it?

Again, it’s not advised to do so. However, should you decide to clean it up yourself, please follow these tips: 

  • Outdoors:
    • Wear a mask if you have one. (An N95 is preferred, but the best mask available to you will do.)
    • Wear waterproof gloves (e.g., dish gloves, disposable latex or nitrile, etc.).
    • Thoroughly wet down or soak the material with water to keep dust down. (Use a spray bottle, hose, bucket, etc. Power-washing is NOT recommended).
    • Place the ash or debris into a trash bag and tie the bag. Place that bag, your gloves and mask (if disposable) into a second trash bag and tie that bag. Place trash into your garbage can.
    • Once you are finished cleaning, wash your hands, and wash any material off your body or clothing right away.
  • Indoors:
    • See above for how to safely handle debris.
    • Use a spray bottle to mist the surface you plan to clean.
    • Use a damp cloth to clean the surface.
    • Use a wet mop on hard-surface floors.

Avoid activities that could stir up ash or debris and make it airborne again, such as using a leaf blower, sweeping with a broom, or vacuuming without a HEPA filter.

If you do not feel comfortable cleaning up the material, email EOCOperations@clackamas.us. Please be specific about the location and type of ash and/or debris.

When can I return home if I’ve been evacuated?

An environmental assessment is currently being conducted. Local property staff will contact residents directly once it is determined that properties are safe to return home.

What should I do if I have been evacuated and need help with temporary housing or other basic needs?

If you or your family need shelter options or assistance with other basic needs (e.g., groceries), please call 211.

Once you return home, check all areas for any potential damage. If there is any damage or debris, it may be hazardous and we encourage you to wait to clean until a qualified contractor can do it. Do not touch or attempt to remove any debris without consulting a certified asbestos abatement company.

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