MENDOCINO Co., 1/13/22 — Local property owners who were faced structural losses due to the Hopkins Fire have until January 15, 2022 to enroll in the California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) debris removal program, which facilitates cleaning up fire-related debris from properties with no direct costs to property owners.
The Hopkins Fire began in Calpella on September 12, 2021 and ultimately burned 257 acres along with 67 structures, more than half of which were residences. In late October, 2021, local officials and county workers, along with the California Conservation Corps and others, undertook emergency efforts to begin the initial clean-up on some Hopkins Fire properties due to significant rainstorms which threatened to wash potentially toxic debris into nearby riverbeds. The need to expedite clean-up for properties impacted by wildfires due to upcoming weather events has been an ongoing challenge across California in recent years, especially as the volume of properties impacted by wildfires has increased annually.
Homeowners will be required to meet certain environmental standards, including submitting soil samples, before they are legally approved to rebuild after a wildfire, and the process is outlined in the announcement from the CalOES. Property owners can also employ private contractors for wildfire debris removal, and will be required to meet the same standards as those participating in the state program.
In 2021, the state implemented a new wildfire debris removal dashboard that tracks the progress for individual properties in real-time, which can be found at this link. Debris removal across the state was temporarily paused due to winter storms, but has since resumed. As of the time of publication, debris removal has begun on 17 properties in Mendocino County that were impacted by the Hopkins Fire.
To participate in the program, property owners contact the county’s disaster recover services at the phone, email, and website listed below. Here’s the announcement from CalOES, below. Read our previous coverage of the Hopkins Fire here.
SACRAMENTO – Less than a week remains for owners of properties that sustained structural damage in the Hopkins, Washington, Windy, French, Fawn and River Complex fires to enroll in the state’s Consolidated Debris Removal Program.
January 15 is the deadline for owners of properties affected by those fires to sign-up for 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.
Despite the recent inclement weather in areas affected by this year’s fires, state debris officials report that crews continue to make progress in removing wildfire debris from participating properties.
To date, crews have removed more than 168,000 tons of burned metal, concrete, ash and contaminated soil from properties whose owners have enrolled in the state’s Consolidated Debris Removal Program after this year’s wildfires.
The 168,325 tons of eligible debris removed to date includes 104,845 tons of ash and debris; 33,016 tons of contaminated soil; 3,465 tonsof burned metal; and 26,999 tons of burned concrete.
For the safety of crews on the ground, debris removal officials have placed a temporary pause on operations until the storms pass and it is safe to resume operations, including properly sorting, excavating and transporting debris via large haul trucks through rural communities.
So far, crews have completed the removal of eligible debris from 755 properties. The 754 cleared properties represent 45 percent of the1,664 properties participating in the full debris removal program. Another 396 properties in those counties are participating in the hazardous trees only element of the program.
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.
Property owners with structural losses from the Hopkins Fire in Mendocino County, the Washington Fire in Tuolumne County, the Windy Fire in Tulare County, the French Fire in Kern County, the Fawn Fire in Shasta County and the River Complex Fire in Siskiyou County should speak with their county government to learn more about the program. Information for each county is below:
- Hopkins Fire (Mendocino County)
- Online: https://www.mendocinocounty.org/government/executive-office/prevention-recovery-resiliency-mitigation/hopkins-fire
- Phone: 707-234-6303
- Email: [email protected]
- Washington Fire (Tuolumne County)
- Online: https://www.tuolumnecounty.ca.gov/1389/Debris-Removal-Information
- Phone: (209) 533-5639
- Email: : [email protected] (Mr. Walt Kruse, Environmental Health)
- Windy Fire (Tulare County)
- French Fire (Kern County)
· Fawn Fire (Shasta County)
o Online: https://www.co.shasta.ca.us/index/drm
o Phone: (530) 225-5787
o Email: [email protected]
· River Complex Fire (Siskiyou County)
o Phone: (530) 841-2100
o Email: [email protected]
· River Complex Fire (Trinity County)
o Phone: (530) 623-1459
o Email: [email protected]
California’s Consolidated Debris Removal Program Stats
|Location||Full ROEs||Hazard Tree Only ROEs||Total Eligible Trees|
|El Dorado County||599||161||12,512|
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.
Work Completed to Date:
|Location||Site Assessments Complete||Asbestos Assessments Complete||Asbestos Abatements Complete||Debris Removal Complete|
|El Dorado County||570||550||136||354|
Data as of 2 p.m., January 11, 2020
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.