Residents of the Mountain Shadows community who lost homes to the Waldo Canyon Fire attended a demonstration of debris cleanup Monday morning.
Representatives of the city and county selected two homes as demonstration locations. At 8:00 a.m. the work began at 2635 Trevor Lane. The second, at 5547 Majestic Drive, began an hour later.
The El Paso County Health Department recommends care is taken when handling any debris from buildings damaged in the fire. Although the ash from the forest fire is relatively nontoxic, homes may have contained batteries, mercury light bulbs, asbestos or lead. Cleanup, therefore, should be done while wearing protective equipment to avoid skin contact or inhalation of the ashes.
Additionally, the soil under the debris area should be scraped to ensure all ash and debris is removed.
After being collected, the material must be thoroughly wetted to minimize dust and packaged within a 6-mil plastic sheeting liner.
If asbestos is known to have been in the home, the debris must be removed according to state regulations for that material.
Household chemicals can be taken to the El Paso County Household Hazardous Waste Facility at 3255 Akers Drive in Colorado Springs.
The Health Department also reports that smoke or heat can damage foods left in the home. Even in canned food the heat can activate bacteria that will spoil some foods, and smoke with toxic chemicals may have penetrated any food stored outside the refrigerator or within permeable packaging. Those same chemicals may have contaminated cookware as well.