Wildfire Cleanup Process and Order of Operations

The state-managed debris removal program has two phases: removal of household hazardous waste and removal of other fire-related debris.

Phase 1 | Household Hazardous Waste Removal

California Department of Toxic Substances Control or other dedicated agency

  • Clear properties of household hazardous waste, including propane tanks, electronic waste, compressed gas cylinders, and solvents.
  • Assess properties for asbestos and remove easily identifiable asbestos material.

Phase 2 | Debris Removal

California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery

Site assessment and documentation

  • Conduct background soil sampling to establish cleanup goals for the project; identify and remove any remaining asbestos-containing materials.
  • Measure and record foundation, structures, debris, utility infrastructure, and property-specific hazards.
  • Certified arborist assesses fire-damaged trees likeliness to fall on public rights of way.

Debris removal

  • Remove, transport, and properly dispose all burnt debris, ash, and contaminated soil; recycle concrete and metal.
  • Handle and track materials separately to ensure operational and fiscal accountability.

Confirmation Sampling

  • Collect multiple soil samples from cleared lot for independent testing and analysis by California-certified laboratories.
  • Assess soil sample results (CalRecycle) to ensure cleanup goals are met; rescrape soil from portions of the parcel as necessary.

Hazard Tree Removal

  • Licensed timber operation cuts down fire-damaged trees that are in danger of falling on the public right of way or public facilities. Cut trees are then removed from the property.

Erosion control measures

  • Implement storm water best management practices to control sediment runoff.

Final inspection

  • Conduct final walk-through of the property (CalRecycle). Deliver Notice of Final Approval to the County for acceptance.

Private Cleanups: Property owners who do not qualify for, or who choose not to participate in, the state program should consult their local officials for information on contractor requirements and cleanup standards.

For more information contact: Office of Public Affairs, opa@calrecycle.ca.gov