The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and its local, state and federal partners are committed to helping survivors of this year’s wildfires recover and rebuild. As part of that commitment, they have been working hard to identify pathways toward removing eligible fire debris and hazardous trees from properties participating in the state’s Consolidated Debris Removal Program and taking measures to ensure that those properties are safe to rebuild on despite roadblocks posed by the recent rain and snowstorms in the affected counties.
Despite those challenges, the program, under the direction of Cal OES and the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), recently reached a major milestone in the effort, passing the 60-percent mark in properties cleared.
To date, crews have removed burned metal, concrete, ash and contaminated soil from 1,054 properties. The 1,054 cleared properties represent 62 percent of the 1,698 properties in 14 counties participating in the full debris removal program. Another 378 properties are participating in the hazardous trees only element of the program.
“We recognize that property owners participating in the state’s debris removal program are eager for debris to be cleared so that they can begin the rebuilding process,” said Cal OES Deputy Director of Recovery Operations Ryan Buras. “Although inclement weather has made the road to recovery from this year’s wildfires challenging, we have reached a significant milestone in the effort to remove eligible debris from properties participating in the debris removal program through the collaboration and dedication of our team, as well as our local, state and federal partners. We remain motivated and committed to clearing all the participating properties and returning them to officials in the respective counties as quickly as possible.”
Under the program, participating property owners incur no direct costs.
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.
Data as of 10:30 a.m., February 2, 2022
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 or hire a 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.
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 2/2/22 at 10:30 a.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.