State Crews Make Progress as February 1 Deadline Nears for 2020 Wildfire Survivors to Join California’s No-Cost Debris Cleanup Program

SACRAMENTO — Property owners whose homes were impacted by last year’s wildfires have less than a week to sign up for the state’s Consolidated Debris Removal Program.¬† Contracted work crews are already working throughout the state to clear debris on participating properties.

To date, debris removal crews have cleared about 650 properties of eligible fire debris statewide.  They also have completed 2,700 site assessments, more than 2,700 asbestos assessments, and around 670 asbestos abatements, as well as nearly 1,400 hazardous tree assessments.  Soil samples for almost 90 cleared properties have been approved.

Property owners cannot begin rebuilding until all wildfire debris and/or hazardous trees have been removed.

The Consolidated Debris Removal Program is administered by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and CalRecycle.  It is an opt-in program.  Participating property owners incur no direct costs for the removal of eligible debris, which includes ash, metal, and concrete, as well as foundations.  Interested property owners, including those who do not have debris removal insurance coverage, simply need to submit a Right-of-Entry (ROE) form to their respective counties.  The ROE grants state contractors access to the property.

Wildfire survivors participating in the Consolidated Debris Removal Program can now access an informational dashboard that provides details of the cleanup progress.

This Debris Operations Dashboard for the 2020 statewide wildfires is updated every hour and provides users with the ability to sort by branch or county via the filters at the top of the page.  Users can also search by address via the magnifying glass icon at the top of the map to learn of the debris removal status of their property.

Wildfire survivors can now track cleanup progress on the Debris Operations Dashboard. 

Learn more about the ROE form below:

Q: What is a Right-of-Entry form?

A: It grants the local and state government access to your property in order to clean up after a wildfire.

Q: Is the debris removal free?

A: All initial costs will be paid by state and federal agencies. However, if property owners have insurance that covers debris removal, owners must inform their local officials.

Q: How are properties prioritized for debris removal?

A: Officials will give priority to sites in or near sensitive areas such as watersheds, schools, daycare centers, and health-care facilities. Then, they will identify areas where there are groups of eligible properties.

Q: Should I be present during the cleanup process?

A: Owners do not need to be present but can view the cleanup from a safe distance on their property. Exclusion zones will be established to ensure the safety of the public and workers.

Q: Will debris removal crews be looking for code violations?

A: No. Debris removal crews are on-site to perform specific operations related to the removal of contaminated soil, ash, debris, concrete, and metals.

Property owners can opt-out of the state program and do the work themselves or hire a private contractor by opting into the local debris removal program.  Work done by property owners who opt out of the state program or their contractors will have to meet the same safety and environmental standards as those of the state program.

In August alone, the fires impacted 18 counties statewide, then in September, another 10 counties, with a total of 4.1 million acres burned. Even with record-breaking numbers, cleanup crews are continuing to make progress.

Recovery resources are available at wildfirerecovery.ca.gov where property owners can find direct links to county ROE forms, contact information for each affected county, as well as additional information about the state’s consolidated debris removal program.

Video explainer of the Consolidated Debris Removal Program and the Right-of-Entry Form:

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Alyson Hanner

Alyson Hanner joined the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) in 2020 after working nearly 20 years in the broadcast news industry. Since joining Cal OES, she has assisted in the response and recovery efforts of the historic 2020 wildfires and the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, she served as managing editor at local television stations in San Diego and Sacramento.

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