The Kincade fire started on
In that time, it destroyed 374 buildings, including 174 ?homes, and prompted the largest mass evacuation in county history.
As residents return home to pick up the pieces, though, they'll largely be on their own.
"We did not rise to the level to receive a federal declaration, so the federal government was not going to come in and do this cleanup for us," Deputy County Administrator
Gossman said he wasn't surprised that the federal government would sit on the sidelines, and he admits it was always questionable whether the state would step up with a hazardous waste removal program.
When asked how many structures it would have to impact before the state would assist with cleanup costs, Gossman said state officials wouldn't provide a number.
More than 374?
"Yeah," he said.
So starting next week, county officials will move forward with their own hazardous waste cleanup program to kick-start the recovery at no cost to fire survivors.
This first phase will focus on collection of such things as propane tanks, batteries, asbestos siding and paints.
Following the hazardous debris work, landowners will be required to deal with the rest of the debris removal on their own -- another difference from 2017, when the
For that disaster, the cost of cleanup via private contractor ranged from
As in 2017, homeowners' insurance policies should cover the bulk of the costs this time around.
For the hazardous materials phase,
State aid is still expected to come to the county, helping the government recover up to 75% of the costs for response and emergency management operations, but the cleanup will fall to the county and its residents. Gossman said the county would also ask for up to 75% in reimbursement for its hazardous waste cleanup program.
The county program will dispatch contractors to all burned structures searching for hazardous waste, instead of just burned homes, as happened in the 2017 fires.
Each crew will have a county employee on board.
The public health emergency declared by the
Unlike in 2017, fire survivors this time will be required to submit soil tests before and after debris removal to prove the land is safe for them and any future residents to occupy the area.
Gossman said in 2017, when soils were tested after excavation, it was impossible to know whether arsenic levels in soils were naturally occurring or required more excavation.
Gossman cautioned that the lack of prior testing was not the cause of over-excavation, a problem that plagued 2017 fire survivors.
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