2020 California Wildfires Debris Removal Update


More than 2,000 properties participating properties in state’s Consolidated Debris Removal Program returned back to county officials to begin permitting process for reconstruction.

SACRAMENTO – More than 2,000 properties throughout the state whose owners enrolled in California’s statewide Consolidated Debris Removal Program have cleared the entire debris removal process and been returned to county officials to begin the permitting process for reconstruction. The 2,019 returned properties represent 44.6 percent of the 4,526 properties in California participating in either the full debris removal program or only the hazard tree element.

In 2020, over 8,000 climate-induced wildfires burned 4.2 million acres of California, destroying more than 5,700 homes. Property owners incur no direct costs for participation in the state-managed clean up and recovery program, administered by the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) in collaboration with 25 participating counties.

Major Clearing Work: 97.7 Percent Complete

As of July 12, the remains of 2020 wildfire survivors’ homes and property — burned metal, concrete, ash, and contaminated soil — have now been cleared from 97.7 percent of the properties enrolled in California’s statewide Consolidated Debris Removal Program. Most properties still need critical soil testing, erosion control, and hazard tree removal to ensure the lots are safe for families to rebuild.

Wildfire survivors had the option to either use their own contractor or enroll in the state-managed program. Of the 5,991 properties with damage from the 2020 fires, 3,819 signed up to have the remains of their homes and other structures cleared by the state.

To date, crews have removed eligible debris from 3,733 properties taking part in the full program. 

Steps County Properties Percentage


Steps Left to Complete

Before homeowners can begin rebuilding, cleared properties need additional work including:

  • Separate contractors collect soil samples for verification at a state certified laboratory that they meet state environmental health and safety standards.
  • Contractors next may install erosion control measures.
  • Certified arborists or professional foresters assess wildfire-damaged trees in danger of falling on the public or public infrastructure for removal by separate contractors.
  • Finally, state officials inspect the property to verify all completed work meets state standards. Debris officials submit a final inspection report to local officials to approve the property for reconstruction.

Data as of July 12, 2021 at 2 p.m.

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