As fire victims return home, construction companies, restoration businesses slammed

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MARION COUNTY, OR (KPTV)- As the soot and ash settle in Marion County, big machinery, construction crews and cleaning experts are now coming in to help neighbors get back on their feet after the Beachie Creek fire devastated much of the area.

“It’s great to see them all arriving, at different houses, driving up and down the road,” said Stephanie Wittman, a manager for Salem-based Rainbow International Restoration. “Everybody is on it; everybody is willing to help, and it just gives me goosebumps. I love seeing it.”

Wittman told Fox 12 their phones have been ringing nonstop for the last couple weeks as more people return to their homes.

“It’s all hands-on deck,” Wittman said. “I’m out here getting dirty instead of doing coordinating and some office duties.”

Wittman said the business is restoring homes that have smoke damage and soot and others that have been partially burned by the fire.

“We’re doing pack outs, getting their belongings out, getting them cleaned off-site, get their house cleaned and then get them back in their home as soon as possible – that’s the, the most important thing,” Wittman said.

Neighbors in Lyons said it’s been stressful to go through the insurance processes when their physically and mentally exhausted from the fires.

“Insurance is kind of a nightmare,” said Penny Nash, adding that the insurance company itself has been great to work with but preparing all the documents and making inventory lists of her belongings has been tough.

Nash rents a room in a home in Lyons that burned to the ground.

Tuesday, she was digging through the ash and shoot, trying to find any remnants of her glass art supplies that she just spent $1,000 on.

“I’m a fused glass artist and so I had about 200 necklaces that I made for Christmas bazaars,” Nash said. “I’m trying to see if I can find any of them.”

Nash said she hopes to make new artwork out of whatever she can salvage.

“It’s going to be out of the ashes,” Nash said. “I don’t know if it’s possible but I’m going to try it.”

Wittman said fire victims who are still starting the process of returning to their homes should first talk to their insurance companies.

“Take a recording of all your belongings, report if you have the damage, report if you have a smell from the wildfires inside your home,” Wittman said. “But (people) can go online and look up their local restoration companies for any assistance. We’ll guide them – a lot of us -- Rainbow International goes out for free inspections and we’ll help them diagnosis and see what steps they need to take.”

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