On Sept. 19, Clackamas County officials announced there were no detections of asbestos in the surface wipe testing related to the commercial fire this past weekend 8800 block of SE Otty Road in unincorporated Clackamas County.
The surface sample testing was performed at 8810 and 8820 SE Otty Road, south of the incident site, by contractors certified by the Department of Environmental Quality. This location was the most directly impacted area.
Updated at 4:21 p.m. Sept. 19, 2023
Clackamas County continues to coordinate with local officials in response to the Otty Road commercial fire. Our primary concern continues to be the health and safety of community members. Ash and debris in the area remains a concern, due to the potential hazardous materials from the fire (asbestos). The county is aware that ash may be resting on the streets, private property and elsewhere in surrounding areas. This could extend up to one mile away in some directions. Two buildings across the street from the fire in the Rosewood Station housing complex — 8810 and 8820 SE Otty Road — were under evacuation advisories due to hazardous materials risk. However, those advisories were lifted Sept. 17.
Clackamas County reached out to the building’s households to inform them about the potential risks and offered emergency shelter in Oregon City. The county reached out again to encourage them to abide by the evacuation recommendation and temporarily relocate to alternative short-term housing.
Questions from affected residents and other members of the public can be answered by calling 2-1-1.
FAQs for the Otty Road Fire and Those Evacuated or Affected by Fire or Air Quality
On Sept. 16, there was a commercial fire in the 8800 block of SE Otty Road, debris and ash from the fire settled in some of the surrounding neighborhoods. The fire is out and it is safe for residents to resume normal activities.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is present at low levels in some soils and was used widely in building materials throughout the last century. Long-term exposure has been found to cause cancer and respiratory health issues. However, most people are exposed to some asbestos over the course of their lives and very few have any health problems because of it.
Government agencies want to make sure that there is not widespread asbestos-containing debris in the area.
On Sept. 16, Clackamas Fire District #1 (CFD1) issued an evacuation advisory for two buildings in the immediate vicinity at 8810 and 8820 S.E. Otty Road. That evacuation advisory was lifted the following day on Sept. 17.
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 poses no risk to human health.
How should I clean my home? And what should I do about cleaning my vehicle if there's ash on it?
There are no specific or special requirements/instructions for cleaning within your apartment. You may clean as you normally do. Patio and exterior areas may also be cleaned as you normally do.
Start by rinsing off your vehicle then washing normally with soap and water. You may also take your vehicle through a commercial car wash.
What happened with the surface wipe testing for asbestos?
Initially there was concern about potential hazardous materials (asbestos) in the fallen ash. Surface testing of the ash has since been conducted, and all tests were negative for asbestos.
What should I do if I was evacuated and the food in my house spoiled?
Clackamas Service Center is offering to replace food lost due to this incident. To request assistance please contact:
How does rain and water affect asbestos?
While it's forecasted to rain in some areas of the county, it's important to know how rain affects asbestos as it pertains to the building fire at Otty Road in unincorporated Clackamas County.
From a broad perspective, one of the keys to cleaning up asbestos is getting it wet so it doesn't get airborne and breathed in by people. But a common question revolves around the asbestos getting into local waterways during and after rain.
In this case, county officials have talked with officials from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to take steps about asbestos getting into local waterways.
Representatives from Clackamas Water Environment Services (WES), the county department which has a surface water management program to protect water quality by preventing, minimizing, and reducing pollution caused by stormwater runoff in area waterways, responded the morning of Sept. 16 to the incident and put protective measures in place to make sure asbestos doesn't get into our local rivers, lakes, streams and creeks. WES continues to monitor those protective measures.
DEQ officials said rain and water is a good thing when there's concern about dust and debris. If there is still dust and debris on surfaces, such as your vehicle, DEQ officials say it's safe to wash those vehicles without hurting the environment.
As of Oct. 5:
- Remaining to be cleaned is the exterior east side and insulation inside building No. 5.
- Contractors cleaned the side of the building to remove some contaminated soil due to the rain pushing some of the burned debris into the soil
- Contractors anticipate the cleaning to be completed next week.