ESTACADA, Ore. — Count the Dodson family of Estacada among the many that are sifting through the rubble that was once their home.
"There's nobody to be mad at," said John Dodson. "Wish we would've taken more stuff."
Retrieving belongings can be a daunting task. It can also be dangerous, according to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
"We're really urging people to not disturb the ash or fire debris on their properties," said Laura Gleim of the Oregon DEQ.
Gleim said hidden in the rubble may be asbestos, toxic chemicals, and electrical hazards.
"The state of Oregon has requested federal assistance to come in and clear properties so that people can begin rebuilding," said Gleim.
Gleim is well aware that not everybody will wait for that federal assistance. She is pleading with people planning to go back to their properties to do so safely.
"Wear protective gear including boots, goggles, and a properly fitted N95 or KN95 respirator," she said.
Safety is the key as families return home in the wake of wildfires that left behind immeasurable devastation.
"It's still a dream," said Dodson.
For more tips on how to return to your property safely click here.