Nearly 60 Percent of Properties in County Participating in California's Consolidated Debris Removal Program Cleared of Eligible Debris
SACRAMENTO – Although areas of Plumas County remain inaccessible due to heavy snow from the major winter storms that hit the area earlier this year, state contractors have cleared burned metal, concrete, ash and contaminated soil from nearly 60 percent of homes and properties in the county whose owners enrolled in the state'sConsolidated Debris Removal Program after last year's Dixie and Beckwith Complex fires.
The 384 properties in the county cleared to date represent 59.9 percent of the 641 parcels participating in the full debris removal program. Another 160 properties are taking part in the program's hazardous trees only element.
In Greenville alone, 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, almost three quarters of participating properties have now been cleared. The 283 cleared properties represent 72 percent of the properties in that community that are participating in 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, contaminated soil and hazard trees from their properties.
In El Dorado County, contractors have removed debris generated by the Caldor Fire from 540, or 91.7 percent, of the 589properties in that county whose owners enrolled in the full debris removal program. Another 160 parcels are taking part in the hazardous trees only element,
Crews have cleared debris generated by the River Fire from 48, or 98 percent, of the 49 sites in Nevada County participating in the full debris removal program. They also have removed debris generated by the River Fire from 42, or 97.7 percent, of the 43 parcels in Placer County participating in the full program.
In Lassen County, crews have cleared debris generated by the Dixie Fire from 18, or 40 percent, of the 45 parcels enrolled in the full debris removal program. Another two properties are participating in the hazardous trees only portion of the program. Portions of Lassen County have also been inaccessible due to snow, complicating debris removal efforts
Earlier, contractors finished removing eligible debris generated by the Washington Fire from all 11 properties inTuolumne County participating in the full program, as well as debris generated by the River Fire from all five properties in Alpine County participating in the full program.
Statewide, crews have removed debris from 1,280, or 74,6 percent, of the 1,715 parcels enrolled in the full program. An additional 341 properties are participating the hazardous trees only element of the program.
Across the state, post-fire hazard tree removal operations are also well underway on participating properties. State-contracted arborists have marked just under 42,000 fire-damaged trees for removal, and to date crews have felled and removed approximately 22 percent of these hazard trees. Removing hazard trees is an important step in ensuring fire-impacted communities are safe for rebuilding.
State and Federal officials are reviewing additional commercial parcels that may be subsequently approved for debris removal.
Data as of 4:50 p.m., February 22, 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 through a licensed, 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.
State debris removal officials remind property owners that only fire-generated debris such as burned metal, concrete, ash and contaminated soil is eligible for cleanup. Unburned refrigerators or other appliances and any debris not generated by the wildfires are ineligible.
Debris officials also stress that participating owners must avoid disturbing the footprint of the destroyed structure and should not remove any debris themselves, other than small valuables. Property owners recovering valuables should wear personal protective equipment and take appropriate precautions. Any debris removal work done by property owners will result in their disqualification from the 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.
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.