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Wildfire Debris Clearing Program Efforts Continue

State-managed contractors have cleared eligible wildfire debris from more than 70 percent of the properties whose owners enrolled in California’s Consolidated Debris Removal Program after last year’s fires.

To date, crews have removed burned metal, concrete, ash and contaminated soil from 1,212 properties. The 1,212 cleared properties represent 70.3 percent of the 1,724 properties in 15 counties participating in the full debris removal program. Another 341 properties are participating in the hazardous trees only element of the program.

Under the program, administered by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), in collaboration with county officials, participating property owners incur no direct costs.

Property owners opted 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.

Crews continue their efforts in Alpine, El Dorado, Kern, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare and Tuolumne counties.

Cal OES and CalRecycle are making significant progress removing debris from some of the California communities hit hardest during the 2021 fire season.

In Greenville, the historic gold rush-era town just east of Lake Almanor where the Dixie Fire decimated the central commercial district and destroyed more than 400 homes, state crews have now cleared more than 60 percent of all participating properties.

Similarly, the El Dorado County community of Grizzly Flats was hit hard by the Caldor Fire, which destroyed the community’s post office, fire station and hundreds of homes. Now, state crews have cleared 95 percent of all enrolled properties in Grizzly Flats, including the fire station. Cal OES and CalRecycle are also in the process of removing more than 18,000 fire-damaged hazard trees threatening infrastructure and rebuilding in the Grizzly Flats community.

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.

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.

The California Consolidated Debris Removal 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.

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