PORTLAND, Ore. — The survivors of Oregon's disastrous September wildfires have a new threat to look out for: people trying to take advantage of their loss.
Regional officials with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warned that there have been reports of people offering phony inspections, ash testing and cleanup services to the state's wildfire-affected communities.
Randy Nattis, incident commander for EPA’s Oregon wildfire recovery efforts, said in some cases, there may be a legitimate contractor offering actual services but claiming the EPA is requiring those services, which is not true.
He also noted that impersonating an EPA officer is a federal crime.
"EPA is not asking anyone to pay for anything," said Nattis. "The service that EPA is providing is free. EPA is also not doing any testing whatsoever of the properties. We are bringing our experts, HAZMAT technicians, onto properties. We're evaluating those properties for household hazardous waste, other HAZMAT material. We will identify, remove those materials."
Nattis said EPA will also remove large pieces of asbestos, and small pieces of asbestos that may be found in the ash of burned properties will be addressed by the state in stage 2 of the cleanup efforts. People may still seek out those services independently if they wish.
In order to be provided government cleanup services, wildfire victims must sign a Right of Entry form through their county.
EPA urges wildfire victims to call 877-877-9392 if they suspect a scam or case of fraud is taking place.
State officials created a list of ways people can avoid becoming a victim of a post-disaster scam.