More than half of properties whose owners signed up to participate in California’s debris removal program following the 2021 wildfires have completed the entire debris removal process and been returned to local officials for the start of reconstruction.
Administered by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), the State’s Consolidated Debris Removal Program works to remove eligible fire-related debris, including burned metal, concrete, soil, ash and hazardous trees from burned properties at no direct cost to the property owners.
The return of the properties to county officials clears the way for owners to begin the permitting process for reconstruction.
“Thanks to the hard work of staff from Cal OES, CalRecycle, local government and our contractors, we have reached a major milestone in our effort to move property owners participating in the state’s 2021 debris removal program forward in the rebuilding process,” said Cal OES Deputy Director of Recovery, Ryan Buras. “We recognize that there’s still work to do and remain committed to completing the debris removal process on the remaining properties quickly and thoroughly as possible.”
In late April, the state reached a huge milestone in clearing wildfire debris generated by the 2021 wildfires – 90 percent of properties were cleared of debris.
To date, crews have removed burned metal, burned concrete, ash and soil from 1,426, or 93.1 percent, of the 1,775 properties whose owners enrolled in the full debris removal program following the fires. Another 366 owners chose to participate in the hazardous trees only element of the program.
Those properties not yet returned to officials in their respective counties still need soil testing, erosion control, or hazard tree removal to ensure the parcels are safe for families to rebuild.
Implemented under the leadership of the Cal OES and local governments, the Consolidated Debris Removal Program offers survivors of the wildfires a streamlined option to clear their properties with no out-of-pocket costs. Following the specialized removal of household hazardous waste from burned parcels, CalRecycle oversees and manages contractors conducting the second phase of debris removal. Once cleaned, each property is tested to ensure that no residual toxins, such as heavy metals, remain to endanger those rebuilding.