A Third of Properties in 2021 State Debris Removal Program Cleared


SACRAMENTO – As the November 30 deadline approaches for wildfire survivors to enroll in the state’s Consolidated Debris Removal Program, state contractors continue to remove eligible debris from properties whose owners have already enrolled in the program.

To date, crews have removed burned metal, concrete, ash and contaminated soil from 485 properties. The 485 cleared properties represent 33 percent of the 1,475 properties in 10 counties participating in the full debris removal program. Another 215 properties are participating in the hazardous trees only element of the program.

Under the program, administered by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), in collaboration with county officials, participating property owners incur no direct costs.

“State crews continue to make great progress in removing debris.  We encourage property owners who haven’t already signed up for the state program to do so by the deadline,” said Cal OES Deputy Director of Recovery Ryan Buras.

Property owners opt into the program by submitting a Right-of-Entry form (ROE) to their county, which allows the state to begin work on their property and incur no direct costs for the removal of burned metal, concrete, ash and contaminated soil from their properties.

Interested homeowners in Alpine, El Dorado, Lake, Lassen, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Siskiyou, Tehama and Trinity counties can find more information about the state’s Consolidated Debris Removal Program, including contacts and county-specific ROE forms here.

The program is also now available to property owners with losses from the Hopkins Fire in Mendocino County, the Washington Fire in Tuolumne County, the Windy Fire in Tulare County, and the French Fire in Kern County. The deadline for submitting ROEs for these counties has not yet been announced. Property owners should speak with their county government to learn more about the program.

Property owners cannot start rebuilding until fire debris is removed from their properties and soil samples taken from the property meet state environmental health and safety standards.

Property owners also can do the work themselves through a licensed, private contractor, but the work must meet the same state standards as the State Program. If work is started by the property owner or contractor, they become ineligible for the State Program.

State debris removal officials remind property owners that only fire-generated debris such as burned metal, concrete, ash and contaminated soil is eligible for cleanup.   Unburned refrigerators or other appliances and any debris not generated by the wildfires are ineligible.

Debris officials also stress that participating owners must avoid disturbing the footprint of the destroyed structure and should not remove any debris themselves, other than small valuables.   Property owners recovering valuables should wear personal protective equipment and take appropriate precautions.  Any debris removal work done by property owners will result in their disqualification from the program.

Steps Left to Complete

Before homeowners 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.

Property owners can track progress on the Debris Operations Dashboard for the 2021 statewide wildfires. The dashboard is updated every hour and provides users with the ability to search by county or address.

*Data as of 11/24/21 at 2:00 p.m.

About the California Consolidated Debris Removal Program:

This Program has two phases:

  • In Phase I, local government, state and federal agencies have organized teams of experts and contractors to inspect the property and assess, make safe, and/or remove any household hazardous waste that may pose a threat to human health, animals, and the environment such as batteries, herbicides, pesticides, propane tanks, asbestos siding, and paints. Phase I is automatic and includes all residential properties that have been destroyed by the fires.
  • In Phase II, local, state and federal officials will coordinate to conduct fire-related debris removal from the property elected to participate in the State Program by signing a Right-of-Entry Form.