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.