SACRAMENTO – The State of California has started the process of safely removing residential wildfire debris from over 5,600 properties across the state after more than 8,000 climate-induced wildfires burned 4.1 million acres in recent months. The coordinated effort between federal, state, and local leaders is a critical step towards individual and community disaster recovery.
California’s Consolidated Debris Removal Program
The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) has mission tasked the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) to operate the statewide Consolidated Debris Removal Program, in support of local governments, to remove debris resulting from disasters. This program gives California’s wildfire survivors a streamlined option to clear their properties with no out-of-pocket costs.
Due to the regional diversity of wildfire-impacted communities in 2020, the state-managed debris removal will involve four operational branches, which include:
Bay Branch (1201 burn sites, 5 counties): Monterey, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Stanislaus
Inland Branch (1,443 burn sites, 6 counties): Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Solano, Sonoma, Yolo
North Branch (2,157 burn sites, 9 counties): Butte, Lassen, Nevada, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Trinity, Yuba
South Branch (823 burn sites, 5 counties): Fresno, Los Angeles, Madera, Tulare, Tuolumne
As part of California’s comprehensive wildfire recovery efforts, Cal OES coordinates with fire-impacted communities to determine the best local recovery solutions, which sometimes include locally managed debris removal programs with state technical guidance and assistance.
“California’s unprecedented 2020 fire season included three of the state’s four largest wildfires ever and set a new state record with more than 4 million acres burned,” said Cal OES Debris Removal Branch Director Kendra Bowyer. “All available resources are being mobilized to put wildfire survivors in a position to rebuild.”
The State-Managed Debris Removal Program Operates in Two Phases
Phase 1 has already begun, with crews managed by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency removing household hazardous waste such as paints, cleaners, solvents, oils, batteries, pesticides, compressed cylinders and tanks, and easily identifiable asbestos.
DTSC crews work to remove household hazardous waste in Phase 1 of wildfire cleanup.
Phase 2 After removing household hazardous waste, private contractor crews managed by CalRecycle will remove the remaining asbestos, assess and document properties, and clear contaminated soil, ash, metal, concrete, hazard trees, and other debris to restore properties to pre-fire conditions.
“So many communities experienced unexpected destruction during the state’s recent wildfires,” said CalRecycle Acting Director Ken DaRosa. “CalRecycle is committed to helping California recover. We have a proven record and have worked alongside 23 local communities to ensure cleanups are conducted with a dedication to safety, integrity, and transparency.”
Next Step for Wildfire Survivors: Submit Right-of-Entry Forms to Local Government
Wildfire survivors who choose to participate in Phase 2 of the state-managed debris removal program must sign Right-of-Entry (ROE) agreements to grant cleanup crews access to their property by December 15, 2020. Property owners can submit these permission forms with their local governments.
Currently available local wildfire recovery website links:
- Bay Branch: Monterey, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Stanislaus counties
- Inland Branch: Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Solano, Sonoma, and Yolo counties
- North Branch: Butte, Lassen, Nevada, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Trinity, and Yuba counties
- South Branch: Fresno, Los Angeles, Madera, Tulare, and Tuolumne counties