Red Cross hands out supplies to clean up after Northeast Portland scrap yard fire

Ana Mendoza, who lives a half mile away from the scrap yard, starting cleaning up her home Tuesday to rid it of any particulates that may have accumulated in her home from the fire's smoke. (KATU Photo)

Health officials instructed returning evacuees to thoroughly clean their homes of fine particulates and toxic chemicals from the Northeast Portland scrap yard fire.

The American Red Cross handed out cleaning supplies to people Tuesday. People can pick the kits up at the evacuation center located at 1415 S.E. 122nd Avenue and at the Ortiz Community Center located on Northeast Killingsworth.

"Smoke and soot from the fire can travel and affect your car, yard, and the paint, carpet, upholstery, drapes, clothing inside your house," according to Multnomah County officials.

The fire broke out Monday morning near Northeast 75th and Killingsworth. Portland Fire and Rescue said the fire was out at a 3 p.m. news conference Tuesday. People were evacuated from their homes late Monday night and told they could return home Tuesday in the late afternoon.

"We don't want to have any extra inconvenience for people who've already been part of this disaster," said Monique Dugaw, a spokesperson for the American Red Cross. "They've already been subjected to having to leave their home because of this fire. We want to make things as easy as possible for them to pick up their lives and move forward."

The kits include everything from masks, to gloves, to cleaning products like bleach.

Ana Mendoza lives a half mile away from the scrap yard. On Monday she said she could see the plume of smoke from her home. She said she could smell burning rubber outside and inside.

"To be honest, the smell was just really awful. You couldn't breathe it in because it would hurt your eyes," Mendoza said.

Mendoza picked up cleaning supplies from the Ortiz Community Center.

"If the Red Cross is giving this out, then everything we need has to be in there," she said.

Multnomah County officials made the following recommendations:

Experts recommend:

-Remove your shoes before you go inside to avoid tracking soot in.

-Put on pants, long sleeves and gloves (such as household dishwashing gloves) before you begin cleaning. If you get any ash on your skin, wash it off as soon as possible.

-Use a damp cloth to wipe ash from household surfaces. 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 when it circulates in the air, it can irritate the skin, nose and throat, and can trigger an attack for people who have asthma (link is external). Wetting the area and wiping it up can help protect you.

-Wipe off children’s toys.

-Gently sweep ash from the floors and follow with a wet mop. Avoid vacuums without a HEPA filter, so you don’t put ash back into the air.

-Wipe soot and smoke from walls, furniture and floors using a mild soap or detergent and warm water.

-Wash any fruits and vegetables with a mild soap from your garden before eating them.

-Throw away any food left on countertops.

-Wash the family pets.

-Open doors and windows to ventilate remove soot and odor.

-Take your vehicles to a local brushless car wash to avoid scratching the paint.

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