Even as debris removal following this year’s fires is about to get underway, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) have reached impressive milestones locally removing debris from last year’s record fire season.
So far in 24 counties, 100 percent of properties participating in Phase II of California’s Consolidated Debris Removal Program have been cleared of 2020 wildfire debris.
Although some properties still need soil testing, erosion control, or hazard tree removal to ensure the parcels are safe for families to rebuild, debris has been removed in 99.9 percent or 3,830 properties enrolled in the state program.
Crews have cleared more than 1.25 million tons — or over 2.5 billion pounds — of ash, debris, metal, concrete, and contaminated soil from the nearly 4,000 properties that took part in California’s Consolidated Debris Removal Program.
In 2020, more than 8,000 climate-induced wildfires burned 4.2 million acres of California, destroying more than 5,700 homes. Of the 5,991 properties with damage from the 2020 fires, 3,833 signed up for Phase II, having the remains of their homes and other structures cleared by the state.
California’s Consolidated Debris Removal Program
Implemented under the leadership of Cal OES and local governments, the Consolidated Debris Removal Program offers survivors of the wildfires a streamlined option to clear their properties with no out-of-pocket costs. Following the specialized removal of household hazardous waste from burned parcels, CalRecycle oversees and manages contractors conducting the second phase of debris removal. Once cleaned, each property is tested to ensure that no residual toxins, such asbestos and heavy metals, remain to endanger those rebuilding.
Debris removal operations are coordinated across local jurisdictions, state agencies and departments, federal representatives, and Tribal representatives. Property owners who wish to conduct their own cleanup or hire private contractors to remove wildfire debris are still bound by local safety and environmental standards and requirements.
For more information on the state’s 2021 wildfire recovery efforts, visit Cal OES’s dedicated page.
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