Clearing the Way for Recovery: Statewide Debris Removal Reaches 90% Completion


SACRAMENTO – The remains of 2020 wildfire survivors’ homes and property — burned metal, concrete, ash, and contaminated soil — have now been cleared from over 90 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.Debris removal of burn up cars

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.

Major Clearing Work: 90.1% 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, 3,787 signed up to have the remains of their homes and other structures cleared by the state.

As of June 7, 2021, state-managed crews cleared burned metal, concrete, ash, and contaminated soil from 3,413 or 90.1 percent of the properties participating in the program.

Steps 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.

Cal O E S and other agencies commence tree removal projectSo far, 1,226 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. 1,299 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 June 7, 2021