Returning to your home

Before returning home, please confirm the evacuation status of your address via the ClackCo Wildfires Evacuation Map,

When you first arrive home, take special care to:

  • Use caution as you travel home. Driveways and rural roads may have debris on them, including rocks or fallen tree limbs. There may also be damage to roads and utility poles.
  • When air quality is poor due to smoke, stay inside with the windows closed as much as possible and pay special attention to children, seniors, animals and anyone with pre-existing conditions.
  • Continue taking steps to protect yourself from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, such as washing your hands often and cleaning commonly touched surfaces.
  • Send text messages or use social media to reach out to family and friends. Phone systems are often busy following a disaster. Make calls only in emergencies.
  • NW Natural Customers who were evacuated and are returning home: if your gas is off, do not turn it back on. We’ll do that for you as soon as we can. We’re working with emergency officials to get clearance to re-enter areas where we turned gas off, so we can assess and then restore service.

A Note from the Board of County Commissioners

To those returning home today:

Our county has been devastated by these historic wildfires, which have threatened many homes, families and places we hold dear.

We can only imagine what your evacuation has been like, having to leave your home and not knowing whether it would be there when you returned. For many of you, it’s been a long vigil of waiting and watching for the smoke and fire to turn, and for your evacuation zone to be declared safe.

We are forever grateful to the firefighters, volunteers and sheriff’s deputies who responded to this crisis. We have been humbled by the strength you showed as you were evacuated. Please know that when we think of the Clackamas County Fires of 2020, we will always remember your grace in the face of them.

If there is anything Clackamas County can do, please contact us at 503-655-8224 or call 211.

Clackamas County Chair Jim Bernard
Commissioner Sonya Fischer
Commissioner Ken Humberston
Commissioner Paul Savas
Commissioner Martha Schrader

On the phone with an insurance agent

Tips for Working with Insurance

From the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation

If you have been affected by wildfires, contact your insurance company as soon as possible to discuss your current situation and learn about next steps. If you still have questions or concerns, the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation consumer advocates are here to help. Call 888-877-4894 (toll-free) or visit the Oregon Division of Finacial Regulation to connect with the Advocacy Team.

Tips for Homeowners and Renters Who Have Evacuated or Been Affected by Fire, Smoke and Ash Damage

  1. Call your insurance company to check your policy. Let your company know if you have evacuated. Coverage is typically available for fire, smoke and ash damage to your home and personal property.
  2. Ask about your auto coverage. You need comprehensive coverage on your auto policy to cover fire, smoke and ash damage, no matter where your vehicle is located at time of the loss.
  3. If you had to evacuate, save your receipts and, when it is safe, let your insurance company know you evacuated. Your homeowner’s policy may pay for expenses such as lodging, food, and even pet boarding due to a mandatory evacuation. Be sure to check with your insurance company to confirm your specific coverage.
  4. If your personal belongings are damaged, the insurance company will request a list of items that are damaged or destroyed. Take some time to work on your home inventory list now. Look through your photos and videos to help recall personal items. Be sure to look for smaller items, such as jewelry. To the best of your ability, write down the age, original cost, and replacement cost of each item.


Driving home

Returning Home After an Evacuation

What You Need to Know About

We know you are anxious to return to your homes, assess any damage, and start the process of recovery. Please proceed with caution, as many dangers may still exist after a wildfire. We want to help you prepare to return, and we have included precautions, steps, and considerations as you move forward.

When you first arrive home, take special care

  • To find out when it is safe to return and whether water is safe to drink, log on to the Clackamas Fire District #1 webpage or to the Clackamas County webpage. Each page will have links to official social media accounts that are updated regularly.
  • Drive with caution. Driveways and rural roads could be blocked by rocks, fallen tree limbs or other debris. There may also be damage to roads and utility poles. Expect additional vehicles and pedestrians on the roads as part of the recovery efforts. Please keep your eye out for extra cars and people on the side of the road.
  • Check for hot embers in rain gutters; in piles of wood, compost or shavings; on the roof; under overhangs, and on all parts of your property including outbuildings. White ash is evidence of hot material. Smoldering holes in the ground can be full of hot coals. Notify your insurance provider that you have a claim and need assistance with recovery.
  • Once inside your home, check for fire damage, including attics, and crawlspaces.
  • If your utilities are shut off, please contact your utility provider before turning these utilites on.
  • Document property damage with photographs. Conduct an inventory and contact your insurance company for assistance.
  • Check if your phone and security systems are working.
  • Turn off appliances before restoring main power.
  • When cleaning, wear protective clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt, goggles, long pants, work gloves, KN-95 face coverings and sturdy thick-soled shoes during clean-up efforts. These will protect you from broken glass, exposed nails and other objects.
  • If your building has only suffered minimal damages clear the debris to the edge of your driveway to be removed later — this will keep your house safe from fire. If you use power tools to help with that work, abide by safety precautions to avoid sparking additional flames. If your property has sustained structural debris impacted by fire, do not touch or attempt to remove the debris without consulting the county Hazardous Waste removal company. The debris may contain contaminants and are not disposable in standard landfill.
  • Continue protecting yourself from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, by washing your hands often and cleaning commonly-touched surfaces.
  • Wildfires dramatically change landscape and ground conditions, which can lead to increased risks of flooding due to heavy rains, flash flooding and mudflows. That risk remains significantly higher until vegetation is restored — up to 5 years after a wildfire. Consider purchasing flood insurance to protect the life you’ve built and to assure financial protection from any future flooding. Visit FEMA's flood insurance page.
  • Be safe after a wildfire

If you see these issues, report them immediately

  • Call your utility company if you see damaged utility equipment or electrical problems. Deep charring on utility poles is hazardous.Call Portland General Electric at 503-464-7777 or 800-544-1795, or call Pacific Power at 1-877-508-5088.
  • If your property relies on propane for fuel, evaluate propane tanks, hoses and connections for damage or leaks. Call your utility or local propane company if you find damage, or if you suspect a leak.
  • If you notice evidence someone may have stolen items while you were evacuated, call the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency phone number at
  • If you have a septic tank with a plastic lid and the lid shows evidence of fire damage, the area is wet or the ground has already collapsed, contact a septic professional to have the tank inspected. Plastic septic tanks may be damaged by excessive heat from a fire and could collapse without warning.
Burned debris on the forest floor

Debris from Wildfires
Sign up for free debris removal by Oct. 16.

After the fire

State and federal agencies are assisting county and local emergency management agencies with assessing hazards and removing ash, debris and hazardous substances from wildfire areas.

DEQ recommends that you do not disturb ash or debris on your property until after it has been assessed by hazardous materials response professionals. There may be hazards such as asbestos fibers, toxic chemicals and electrical or structural hazards on your property. State and federal assistance on assessment of hazards and removal will begin as soon as fire conditions allow. Find the latest info at

Keep in Mind

We encourage property owners to be cautious before disturbing any significant debris by keeping the following in mind:

  • Contact your insurance company about your loss and inquire about the best way to contract with a professional asbestos removal company.
  • We are working with Oregon DEQ to establish clear guidelines handling structural debris and its disposal. We will update our website with the most current guidelines available. Check for this information.

We presume that debris from wildfires contains asbestos, which is a highly dangerous material. Please review Oregon DEQ’s asbestos guidelines. All ash and debris is considered hazardous and contaminated and should be handled as such.

Currently, no local transfer station can accept this material. Hillsboro Landfill is able to accept this material and has provided detailed fire debris removal information. Have your contractor check them to help you decide best next steps.  

Doing this right from the beginning will smooth the rebuilding process later, including getting your building permits processed.

Use caution around debris

  • Be aware of all electrical hazards — including those from downed power lines or other electrical sources — as well as hazards from unstable walking surfaces and sharp objects buried in the ash.
  • Wear sturdy footwear, eye goggles, a properly fitted N95 or KN95 respirator and heavy duty work gloves. If possible, wear disposable coveralls and dispose of them after use. If you do not wear disposable coveralls, make sure to have a clean set of clothes to change into after working or rummaging in debris and ashes.
  • Cloth face coverings, paper masks or bandanas are not effective at filtering out fine airborne ash, dust or asbestos fibers. N95 and KN95 respirators, if properly fit tested and worn, can offer protection.
  • Don’t use a leaf blower to clean up ash. It will create more airborne particles.
    Ash must be adequately wetted to control dust that can become airborne. When cleaning with water, please ensure water containing ash is not washed into the stormwater system or into surface waters. Water containing ash can cause water quality issues. Do not use a vacuum to clean up ash unless it has a high efficiency HEPA filter.
  • Children should not be involved in cleanup activities. Do not let children near the debris or in an area where they might breathe airborne particles left from the fire.

More Information

Food inside a pantry

Food and Water Safety


Don’t let foodborne illness ruin your return

Remember to check any cooled or frozen foods to see if they have spoiled while you were evacuated. Check the expiration dates on the food in your refrigerator and make sure that foods in your freezer stayed frozen. When in doubt, throw it out.

If your home lost power while you were gone, find more detailed information on food safety after a power outage online.

Throw away food that may have come in contact with soot or ash; perishable foods that have not been refrigerated properly due to power outages; and those with an unusual odor, color or texture. Unsafe food can make you sick even if it looks, smells and tastes normal.

  • Refrigerated food
    Discard food that is spoiled, as well as food that has been stored in a refrigerator that has lost power, even if the power has been restored.
  • Frozen food
    Discard food that’s thawed. If your freezer has been exposed to fire or has been without power for more than three days, throw out the contents.
  • Canned food
    Canned goods should be safe unless the can has bulged, rusted or is badly dented. Undamaged canned goods should be washed and disinfected if they’ve been exposed to smoke. Food in glass jars exposed to heat should be thrown out as seals may have broken.
  • What else to discard
    Discard food and items exposed to heat, ash, chemicals, soot, water and smoke including:
    • Food stored in cupboards, drawers, containers and open food
    • Packaged food, including paper, cardboard boxes, plastic, cellophane
    • Bottles and jars of food with screw top lids or crown/crimp caps
    • Single service items and utensils, which includes individually plastic-wrapped items

Keep pet food safe, too

Make sure that any pet food that was left out or open is free of ash. If there is ash in it, throw it out. Provide fresh food and water to keep your pets healthy.



Do not drink, prepare food or wash with tap water until officials say the water source is safe. Contact your water provider or check its web site for up to date information. Use bottled water, or boil or disinfect tap water with tablets (or chlorine bleach for non-drinking needs).


If you have your own well and are not on a community water system, check to make sure there has been no damage. You can visually check for:

  • Damaged and melted or exposed electrical wiring
  • Damaged and melted PVC casing, liner or pipes
  • Damaged well houses and pressure tanks
  • Debris such as ash and sediment entering uncovered wells
  • Old dug wells with wood covers, which can become a safety threat

Exposed electrical wiring to the well are a significant electrical safety hazard with the potential for an electrical short to the metal casing.

  • If the electrical wiring has been damaged, do not handle the wiring or touch the casing.
  • Flag the area around the well casing as a warning.

Dug wells or septic systems with covers may have been damaged by fire and are a significant hazard to public safety.

  • The well cover or septic systems with a cover may be damaged to such an extent that it may drop into the well or septic tank can be so unstable that walking on it may cause a collapse.
  • If you discover what appears to be a sinkhole or open hole, flag or barricade the area around it.

If your well has been damaged by fire, or you think an old dug well has been exposed, contact a local licensed and bonded well constructor or pump installer to determine the extent of the damages and what must be done to either repair or decommission the well.

If you think a fire may have damaged your water supply, bring water back with you when you return to your home. The general rule is that each person will need at least one gallon of water per day for drinking, cooking and hygiene.

If your septic system has been damaged by fire, contact a local licensed and bonded septic installer to determine the extent of the damages and what must be done to either repair or decommission the septic system.


Woman with a dog

Pets and Livestock

Please visit our Animals page for more information.

Smoke around trees

Smoke, Ash and Air Quality

Dealing With Continued Smoke

As the Clackamas County fires continue to burn, there will likely still be smoke in the area. Fine particles and other chemicals in smoke may irritate your eyes, airways and lungs, and make chronic heart and lung diseases worse.

Wildfire smoke affects people differently. Your age and medical conditions may make your reaction to smoke worse. Those who are sensitive to air pollution also may be more affected than others.

If you experience serious medical problems for any reason, seek medical attention immediately.

Common symptoms include:

  • Watery or dry eyes
  • Persistent cough, phlegm, wheeze, scratchy throat or irritated sinuses

Slow down and hydrate if you experience:

  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath, asthma attack, or lung irritation
  • Fatigue

Seek emergency care if you experience:

  • Irregular heartbeat, chest pain

Those who are most likely to have problems include:

  • People with existing lung conditions such as lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, asthma, or emphysema
  • People with existing heart conditions including angina, previous heart attack, congestive heart failure, or irregular heartbeat
  • Infants and young children
  • People over 65 years of age
  • Pregnant women
  • Chronic smokers, especially those who have smoked for multiple years

The best way to avoid breathing problems or other symptoms when the air quality is poor is to stay inside. If you must be outside when the air quality is poor, avoid unnecessary physical activity. Your healthcare provider can give you advice on how to manage your symptoms and stay healthy.

If you have a medical emergency from smoke, such as chest pain or severe difficulties breathing, call 911 or go to the emergency room immediately.

You can check the air quality near you by visiting Air Quality Today online.

Cleaning Up Your House and Yard

Wildfire ash is like the ash that collects in your fireplace, but it may contain traces of cancer-causing chemicals. Visible pieces of ash are big enough to be kept out of the lungs by the body’s natural defenses in the nose and throat. But small particles stirred up by cleaning can irritate the skin, nose, and throat, and might trigger an attack for people who have asthma.

As you clean up around your home and yard, experts recommend:

  • Put on pants, long sleeves and gloves before you begin cleaning.
  • Use a damp cloth to wipe ash from household surfaces.
  • Wipe off children’s toys.
  • Gently sweep ash from the floors and follow with a wet mop. Avoid vacuums that don’t have a HEPA filter, so you don’t put ash back into the air.
  • Wash the family pets.
  • Avoid getting ash into the air as much as possible. Do not use leaf blowers or do other things that will put ash back up into the air.
  • Gently sweep, then wet mop, hard outdoor surfaces like patios or decks.
  • Use a damp cloth to wipe off outdoor furniture.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables from your garden or fruit trees before eating them.
  • Take your vehicles to a car wash.

Some insurance policies cover disaster clean-up or other services to get your home back to normal. Check with your insurance carrier to see what is included.

How to Contact Your Electrical Utility

  • Pacific Power
    Downed wires and dangerous conditions
    877-508-5088 or 9-1-1
  • PGE
    Outages, emergencies and power problems
    503-464-7777, 800-544-1795 or 9-1-1

Are Schools Open? Are Buses Running on Regular Routes?

For updates on school hours, check with your school district.


Depressed man sitting on couch

Coping with Traumas and Natural Disasters

Common Reactions

The emotional impact of a natural disaster can stick around long after the danger has passed. As you return home, know that it’s common to have a range of reactions, including:

  • Feelings of fear, anger, or sadness
  • Changes in sleeping or eating habits
  • Physical distress, like an upset stomach, a racing heart, headaches, or sweating
  • Wanting to isolate yourself and avoid family or friends
  • Thoughts of helplessness

Signs You or a Loved One May Need Help

Difficult emotions are natural following a traumatic event. If you are having trouble coping or if the difficult emotions continue or interfere with your daily life, it may be time to seek help. Pay attention to these signs:

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling extreme emotional highs and/or lows
  • Ongoing trouble sleeping or concentrating
  • Inability to do your usual activities or handle daily problems
  • Difficulty understanding or relating to other people
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Hearing voices or seeing things that don’t exist
  • Thoughts of suicide or harming yourself or others
  • Other behavior that feels out of control

You are not alone. If you are having one or more of these reactions, seek expert help. Helpline phone numbers are at the end of this section.

For Parents Supporting Children

It’s important for parents to help children who may be having trouble coping. With support from adults, children and youth can thrive and recover. Here’s how you
can help:

  • Regularly ask them how they are feeling and what might help them cope.
  • Allow them to ask questions. Listen carefully and answer them honestly.
  • Stick to routines, including healthy eating, sleeping, and exercise habits.
  • Prevent too much exposure to news or social media.
  • Encourage them to participate in fun activities, spend time with friends, or be creative.
  • Look for signs of distress and allow them to remove themselves from situations that are hard for them.
  • Seek expert help if they are having difficulty coping.

Taking Care of Yourself

Always take care of your own health. Follow these suggestions for relieving stress:

  • Talk with trusted friends and loved ones about what happened and how you feel.
  • Get regular exercise, but avoid exercising too much. If you don’t like to exercise, consider gentle walking, stretching or meditating.
  • Take deep breaths. Deep breathing can calm your body and help you work through stress.
  • Listen to music. A calming playlist can help you relax and distract you from difficult emotions.
  • Take care of your physical self. Eat healthy meals. Drink plenty of water. Get plenty of sleep. Avoid too much alcohol, tobacco or caffeine. Too much of these can make stress worse.

More Resources

Clackamas County Resolution Services is available for community members affected by the wildfires the following services:

potential listening circles for folks displaced with fires

help mediate new housing arrangements due to the displacement; and

supporting difficult conversations

Visit them online.

Access 24/7 Mental Health Support

If you or someone you know is struggling, help is available. Get around-the-clock mental health help from these resources:

Resources from the Federal Emergency Management Agency

FEMA Housing Assistance
The first step toward getting housing assistance is to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Go online to

  1. When you go to this page, enter your city or zip code.
  2. After you enter that information, click on the blue rectangular "Apply Online" button on the right-hand side of the page.
  3. Continue to the application process.

or call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362, (TTY) 800-462-7585. Once you have registered, FEMA will arrange for an inspector to look at your home.

Other Related Resources from FEMA


FEMA "Help After a Disaster" Brochures

Office Hours:

Clackamas County Call Center
Monday to Thursday
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Regional Information

Clackamas County Crisis and Support Line

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Related News
Wildfires, Disaster Management