Hazardous Household Waste Sweeps Following Woolsey, Hill Wildfires Nearing Completion

After the Woolsey and Hill fires ravaged southern California this past November, the first phase of California’s largest ever state-run debris removal program is nearing completion in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. The Woolsey Fire began Nov. 8 in Ventura County and rapidly spread into Los Angeles County.

The fire was contained on Nov. 21.

During that time the fire burned 96,949 acres, destroyed 1,643 structures and damaged 364 others. The Hill Fire, also igniting on Nov. 8, covered 4,531 acres and affected 6 additional 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 the removal of easily identifiable materials suspected to contain asbestos, and includes both residential and commercial properties.

The massive debris removal task began on Dec. 4, involving 1,405 Los Angeles County properties and 297 more in Ventura County. In just under 6 weeks , the coordinating agencies have cleared 93% of LA County properties (1,306/1,405) and 99% of Ventura County properties (293/297).

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 your property if you have elected to participate in the program by completing and signing a Right-of-Entry (ROE) form. You can download the ROE form for Los Angeles County here, and for Ventura County here.

RJ Ghilarducci

RJ Ghilarducci is a Public Information Officer for the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). He joined the OES team to aid in 2018's Camp, Woolsey, Hill, and Holy Fire recoveries. He previously served on Governor Gavin Newsom's campaign, worked as a newspaper reporter, and coached Division 1 college football.

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