Wildfire Debris Removal Operations FAQ for Butte County


Following are the most frequently asked questions specific to the Butte County Debris Removal Program.  This operation initially involves removal of hazardous waste followed by removal of the remaining fire-related debris.  The entire removal process is on-going and is expected to be long-term.


Debris Removal Program Enrollment/Process

  1. What is the Consolidated Debris Removal Program?

The Consolidated Debris Removal Program (Program) has two phases: removal of household hazardous waste and removal of other fire-related debris.

In Phase I, local government, state and federal agencies have organized teams of experts from the California State Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) to inspect your property and remove any household hazardous waste that may pose a threat to human health, animals, and the environment such as batteries, herbicide, pesticide, propane tanks, asbestos siding, and paints. Phase I is automatic and includes both residential and commercial properties destroyed by the fire.

In Phase II, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and local officials coordinate with the State’s Debris Task Force and its Debris Management Teams (DMT) to conduct fire-related debris removal from your property if you have elected to participate in the program by completing and signing a Right-of-Entry (ROE) Form.

  1. What do I need to do?

Phase I (household hazardous waste): You do not need to do anything to have household hazardous waste removed from your property. Operations are automatic and already underway.

Phase II (remaining fire-related debris): To sign up for the Phase II Program, you will complete an ROE form to grant government contractors access to your property to conduct the debris removal. Please provide insurance information with the ROE as applicable. Visit ButteCountyRecovers.org to download the ROE.

Submittal for unincorporated and incorporated areas of the county can be made at these locations:

    Butte County Environmental Health, 202 Mira Loma Dr., Oroville CA 95965
    Disaster Recovery Center at the Chico Mall, 1982 E. 20th Street in Chico
  • E-MAIL TO: ROE@buttecounty.net
  1. After I turn in an ROE to my local government, what happens next?

First, the ROE Center reviews your ROE to ensure it has been filled out correctly. They will also cross check property records to verify you are the property owner. Afterwards, the ROE will be transferred to the DMT for processing and scheduling.

  1. How will I know if household hazardous waste has been removed from my property?

The DMT will mark the property indicating that household hazardous waste has been removed.

  1. Is the debris-removal program only for houses that are completely destroyed?

This debris removal program is for fire-damaged or destroyed houses, as directed by local government. If you are unsure if your house qualifies for the debris- removal program, submit a Right-of-Entry form to your local government for assessment.

  1. What is considered household hazardous waste?

Household hazardous waste is waste from houses that poses a threat to public health, animals, or the environment. Hazardous waste includes chemicals that are ignitable, toxic, corrosive, or reactive. Examples include pool chemicals, car batteries, antifreeze, used oil filters, solvents, fertilizers, pesticides, propane tanks, disinfectants, aerosols, paint, bleach, and ammunition.

  1. Are burned electronics and appliances (white goods) included in the household hazardous waste cleanup?

Teams handling hazardous waste will not remove appliances or electronic wastes, such as TV and computer monitors, computers processing units, or cell phones. These materials will be removed as part of the overall debris removal process.

  1. Why not just have the contractors remove household hazardous waste as part of the general clean up?

Household hazardous waste must be removed without delay to protect public health and safety. This is an emergency protective measure. Hazardous waste could have significant long-term environmental impacts and should not be combined with the waste from the general clean-up that is going to the landfill.

Removal of hazardous waste from the fire debris prevents these environmental contaminants from polluting the environment, and protects the workers and the public from exposure during debris removal efforts.

Removal crews are specifically certified to handle household hazardous waste.

  1. When will my debris be cleared?

Crews have already begun removal of hazardous household waste. Removal of fire debris, other than hazardous household waste, is scheduled to begin in January of 2019.

There are a number of factors that determine when your lot will be scheduled for debris removal. Contractors are responsible for planning their work, based on priorities set by Cal OES and partners, with input from local government and city governments, to maximize efficiency. 

  1. What is soil testing? Why is this being performed, and how? Who tests the soil?

Crews scrape 3 – 6” of soil from the ash footprint and samples are sent to a state-approved lab for analysis. The results are compared against background samples taken from areas in the vicinity that are not directly impacted by fire to ensure that all contaminated ash was removed. If necessary, more soil is removed and the site is retested until it comes back clear of contaminants. All soil testing results are returned to the DMT for final review and validation.

  1. After debris clearance and soil testing, what are the next steps?

Once the DMT have ensured that contractors have removed all debris and soil testing meets California state standards, contractors will return to install erosion control methods. The DMT will then report to your local government that your lot is clear. Your local government will then notify you that your property is safe and ready for rebuilding.

  1. Once the household hazardous waste is removed by DTSC and U.S. EPA, can property owners hire their own contractors to remove the remaining debris?

Yes. If you decide to remove fire-related debris from your property, you must obtain all the necessary permits and environmental clearances from your local government before your contractors start any work.

Health and Safety

  1. My house was destroyed in the fire. Can I go back onto my property to see if I can find any valuables or mementos?

Visiting your property will NOT jeopardize your claims for disaster assistance. Property owners who desire to search for possible salvageable items should do so with caution and with proper protective gear: eye protection, masks, gloves, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants. Residents should minimize contact with fire debris, which may contain materials that can be hazardous to your health and are not able to move fire debris on or off of their property. For more information visit:


Click to access Fire_Emergency_Guidance_FS_1.pdf

  1. Can residents be present during the cleanup of their personal property?

The safety of the general public and workers is a priority during debris operations. To prevent safety hazards, the public is encouraged to stay away from areas where debris removal operations are underway. Exclusion zones will be established surrounding the current work area to ensure safety of the public.

  1. How are the DMT protecting our rivers, streams and aquifers from contamination?

The DMT will use erosion controls on the site as well as use silt collection devices around storm drains to minimize impacts to rivers, streams and the aquifers. They are also taking measures such as wrapping the debris in trucks to minimize particles traveling from the air to the water.

  1. Who ensures compliance with worker safety regulations?

The State’s Debris Task Force’s safety professionals and contractor safety staff ensure work is complying with all OSHA, Cal/OSHA and state and federal EPA standards.

  1. What safety and environmental regulations are contractors required to comply with?

Contractors are required to comply with all local, state and federal laws and regulations regarding safety and the environment. Whenever there is a conflict between codes or regulations, the most stringent regulation is applied.

Payment and Insurance

  1.  Who will pay for the debris removal?

All initial costs will be paid by state and federal agencies. However, if property owners have homeowners insurance covering debris removal, owners must inform local officials by indicating that coverage on their ROE. Homeowners may be required to remit that portion of their insurance proceeds specifically reserved for debris.

  1. If I have homeowner’s insurance, can I still participate in the debris removal program?

Yes. However, to avoid a duplication of benefits provided by the state or federal government, your insurance company may be required to provide payment from your policy designated for debris removal to the government.

  1. What portion of my homeowner’s policy will the local government collect for debris removal?

It depends on the policy that you have. There are generally two types of debris removal coverages in a homeowner’s insurance policy:

  • Specified Amount: If your homeowner’s insurance policy contains a separate, debris-specific clause, the local government will only collect the specified amount designated in the debris removal clause. These clauses are typically capped at a percentage of the coverage amounts listed in the policy (for example, 5 percent of the value of a primary structure, other structure, and personal property). You will not owe the local government any additional money, even if the actual costs to remove the debris exceeded the amount designated in your insurance policy for debris removal.


  • No Specified Amount: If your homeowner’s insurance policy does not have a separate, debris-specific clause and instead includes the costs of debris removal in the total coverage, the local government will only collect insurance proceeds for debris removal after you have rebuilt your home. The local government will only collect any available insurance proceeds, if any, after the rebuild. If there are no remaining funds, the homeowner will not owe the local government any additional money for debris removal.
  1. If I participate in the Consolidated Debris Removal Program, will the local government have the right to take all of my insurance proceeds?

No. The local government will only seek reimbursement from the insurance carrier as stated above. The local government will not attempt to collect any insurance proceeds designated for rebuilding.

  1. Can I use my debris removal insurance policy to remove items that are ineligible for removal under the Consolidated Debris Removal program?

Yes. If you have a specified amount for debris removal in your insurance policy, you may use your insurance proceeds to remove fire related debris that is ineligible for removal under the program (e.g., swimming pools, patios, trees, etc…). The local government will only collect remaining insurance proceeds, if any, after you have removed ineligible fire related debris.

If your homeowner’s insurance policy does not have a separate, debris-specific clause and instead includes the costs of debris removal in the total coverage, you may use these proceeds to pay for the removal of fire related debris that is ineligible for removal under the program. The local government will only collect remaining insurance proceeds, if any, after you have removed ineligible fire related debris.

In either scenario, the property owner will be required to substantiate all expenditures.


  1. Will the State’s Debris Task Force use local contractors in this effort?

The State’s Debris Task Force will choose a prime contractor who will hire subcontractors. The State’s Debris Task Force will make every effort to encourage the prime contractor to use local subcontractors.

If you have any questions regarding the Consolidated Debris Removal Program, send them to debrisquestions@caloes.ca.gov or visit our website at wildfirerecovery.org.

If you have any questions about completing the Right-of-Entry form for Phase II of the Debris Removal Program, send them to roe@buttecounty.net or call 530.552.3155.

For additional information, please go to:

ButteCountyRecovers.org or WildfireRecovery.org



  1. Bob

    So in a community whose median income far surpasses Paradise’s, all debris removal is free. Why not in Paradise?

    LOS ANGELES, Calif. —The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), in coordination with Los Angeles County Public Works, will provide debris removal for homes destroyed by the Woolsey Fire at no cost to property owners and residents.

    The free removal of non-hazardous fire debris applies to destroyed residential homes with a maximum of one wall standing. It also applies to mobile homes, as well as vehicles and boats on a property where a home was destroyed. For a complete list of eligible debris, visit lacounty.gov/lacountyrecovers.
    Property owners must opt-in to the program by submitting a Right of Entry (ROE) form. The form provides consent for debris removal teams to access a property.

  2. Mar Deer

    Will the recyclable materials, sheet metal, etc . be recycled?

  3. Richard Wysham

    It’s indicated that the debris cleanup will begin in January of 2019. Do the authorities have a place to put all the material? If one property was cleared per day, it’d take almost twenty years to complete. Who’s going to take all the vehicles? That alone will be a monumental task. I’ve been seeing workers in hazmat suits and respirators meticulously wiping down metal before wrapping. The state says “ no problem” but there’s nowhere to put everything. The only place on the west coast that can take this debris is in Nevada. True? There’s talk of running a railline into Paradise.True?


    I can’t find anywhere about the homeowners cost if done by contractors or by FEMA. I had a 1/3/acre lot with a 1950 sq ft one story home. What should this cost to make safe. I’m trying to determine which to use, contractor or FEMA.

    • Thomas Gardner

      We had our property cleared by an independent contractor; $31,000.00. How much time do you have? We’re ready to move onto the property and we’re being held up by new soil testing results; arsenic levels.

      Two maybe three weeks more before we can get the fifth wheel placed on the property. Good luck.

      Magalia, California.

  5. Clifford L. Jacobson

    Why do those who have opted out need to create and submit a plan and have that plan approved before they can start clean up. Non of the FEMA subcontractors are submitting plans for each parcel they clean up. The alternative program requires a licensed contractor to do the clean up. Each lot must be cleaned up in the same manner and it makes no sense in inundating the one staff person at Butte County Health with individual boiler plated plans that need to be reviewed and approved before clean up can start. Just as the FEMA contractors know where the concrete goes, the ash goes, and the metal goes, so do the non FEMA contractors. And yes, they all know the correct way to load, cover and manifest each load. The only reason I can see for this bottle neck is to discourage people who have proper insurance from opting out in order to pay for the individuals who had no insurance or who were underinsured. Does the term OBAMA CARE sound familiar

    • Thomas Gardner

      It don’t matter. That’s the government.

      We used Sterling P Holloway Inc. @ (916) 415-8260. Linda is in the office and David is in the field @ (530) 392-5740. $32,000.00 and some change. They took care of everything but writing the check.

      Afterwards, Butte County is doing their part with three permits for about $650.00, a bunch of paper work to fill out and you’re good.

      If you have the insurance money, go for it.

      • Clifford Jacobson

        You missed the point your contractor still had to file a plan with butte county health and have it reviewed and approved before they could start your cleanup while fema subs do not

        • Thomas Gardner

          I didn’t miss anything. Our property is cleared, approved and we’re having our fifth wheel hooked up to power and water. The contractors are taking care of everything. The county has their plan and they have to see everybody’s plan. It’s not personal. Please, call a contractor, get the property cleared, get your permits and get moving forward on rebuilding your home. We’re all getting hosed.

  6. Angela Babcock

    CALOES doesn’t deal with burnt trees, so I am wondering when we can start getting rid of burnt trees. PGE has cut down & semi removed a small portion of the trees on my property already. Can I have the rest of them removed while waiting for CALOES to clean my property?

  7. Homeadvisor

    Thank you so much for this blog! I love reading cleaning blogs and themes about the eco cleaning products.

  8. Plaster

    This incredible. Not using chemicals instead organize contents in cleaning for a make over. Thanks for sharing this.

  9. dumpster rental

    Good Post!
    Quite interesting and engaging information. You give readers a lot to think about that. I really appreciate that kind of writing. Thanks for sharing us a great information that is actually helpful.
    I really like that, thank you so much!

  10. Kenjie

    This blog post is well written and has a clear message. Thank you for sharing…

    Sending love from Kitchen remodeling Southlake, TX Company 💋

  11. Kelly

    Your article is quite helpful! I have so many questions, and you have answered many. Thank you!

    Sending love from Drywall Contractor in Keller Company 💋

  12. Zim

    Wow, What a Excellent post. I really found this to much informatics. It is what i was searching for.I would like to suggest you that please keep sharing such type of info.Thanks

    Zim | drywall installation Atlanta

  13. Petty

    This is a great inspiring article.I am pretty much pleased with your good work.You put really very helpful information. foundation construction

  14. Francis

    This is a great inspiring article.I am pretty much pleased with your good work.You put really very helpful information. foundation repair

  15. facebook

    Wohh precisely what I was looking for, thanks for putting up. “Be nice to everyone on your way to the top because you pass them all on the way down.” by Fred Hufnagel, Sr.. facebook


Leave a Reply to Homeadvisor Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *