The first phase of California’s largest ever state-run debris removal program is progressing rapidly in Butte County, just weeks after the most destructive wildfire in California history struck the area. The Camp Fire ignited this past November, leaving a mass of destroyed and damaged properties in its wake. The fire burned for 17 days, from Nov. 8 to Nov. 25, covering an area of 153,336 acres and destroying 18,804 structures.
Phase I of the state’s process, which is being overseen by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), involves the removal of household hazardous waste (HHW). Household hazardous waste includes everyday products like paints, cleaners, solvents, oils, batteries, herbicides and pesticides, which may pose a threat to human health, animals and the environment. Pressurized fuel cylinders can also pose a threat and are removed. Following a fire, these products require special handling and disposal, especially if their containers are compromised. Phase I also includes removal of easily identifiable materials suspected to contain asbestos, and includes both residential and commercial properties.
The state’s massive debris removal task began on Dec. 4, involving 13,500 Butte County properties in need of HHW services. To date, the coordinating agencies have completed 8,914 of the 13,500 properties, or 66% of the total. This includes successfully completing Phase I on all Butte County schools affected by the fire.
Upon completion, Phase II of the debris removal process will begin. 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 the affected property. The state’s program is completed at no cost to property owners; the state may only seek to recoup any funds dedicated for debris removal in the property owner’s insurance policy after completion of the work. Residents must elect to participate in the program by completing and signing a Right-of-Entry (ROE) form. You can download the ROE form for Butte County here.