2020 Statewide Wildfires Debris Removal Update: Major Milestones Hit in Communities Throughout California


Wildfire recovery resources graphic

SACRAMENTO – As properties enrolled in California’s statewide Consolidated Debris Removal Program continue to be cleared of remains from the 2020 wildfires, major local progress has been reported in local communities.

Although most properties still need critical soil testing, erosion control, and hazard tree removal to ensure the lots are safe for families to rebuild, more than 96 percent of survivors’ homes and properties have been cleared of debris, including burned metal, concrete, ash, and contaminated soil.

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 cleanup 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.

A Sampling of Local Milestones:

  • More than 40 percent of properties statewide are back to county for final approval.
  • More than 75 percent of Solano County properties are back to county for final approval.
  • More than 60 percent of Napa County properties are back to county for final approval.
  • More than 2/3 of Santa Clara County properties are back to county for final approval.
  • All 13 properties in San Mateo County cleared of debris 
  • All 99 Shasta County properties cleared of debris
  • More than 80 percent of properties in Trinity County cleared of debris
  • More than 90 percent of properties in Tulare County cleared of debris
  • Erosion control measures completed on more than 2,000 cleared properties

Major Statewide Clearing Work: 96.2 Percent Complete

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, 3,815 signed up to have the remains of their homes and other structures cleared by the state.

As of June 29, 2021, state-managed crews cleared burned metal, concrete, ash, and contaminated soil from 3,670 or 96.2 percent of the properties participating in the program.

Steps Properties Percentage

Steps Left to Complete

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

  • Separate contractors collect soil samples for verification at a 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.

So far, 1,888 properties have gone through the entire post-debris removal steps of soil testing, erosion control, and removal of fire-damaged trees in danger of falling on public infrastructure before being returned to the county to begin reconstruction. 1,834 properties have cleared the entire process.

Property owners can track the above data on the Debris Operations Dashboard for the 2020 statewide wildfires. The dashboard is updated every hour and provides users with the ability to search by county or address.

* Data as of 6/29/21 at 11 a.m.