Santa Rosa, CA – October 15, 2020 at 4:00 PM –
Sonoma County is preparing to support Glass Fire survivors in clearing their properties so that rebuilding can begin. The process of clearing properties consists of two phases. Phase 1 is the removal of household hazardous waste following an inspection of burned property, for materials that may pose a threat to human health, animals, and the environment such as batteries, asbestos siding, and paints. Phase 2 is the removal of the remaining structural ash and debris and soil testing to ensure the site is clean, safe for rebuilding, and free of potentially leached toxins.
Phase 1 is mandatory for all properties that were included in the state damage assessment report.
The Phase 1 household hazardous waste sweeps will be coordinated in conjunction with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and California Environmental Protection Agency. Work will begin when it is safe for workers to identify and remove household hazardous waste from the burn footprint. Please continue to check socoemergency.org/recover for updates on when this process will begin.
Only after completion of the Phase 1 removal may residents move forward with Phase 2 structural debris removal. The county has requested the assistance of the State of California in a Phase 2 government-sponsored debris removal program, but at this time, the state has not indicated whether there will be a government-sponsored Phase 2 debris removal program. After completion of the Phase 1 sweeps, a property owner who wants to pursue Phase 2 structural debris removal through a private contractor, which may be covered under a homeowner’s insurance policy, must file an application and plan with either Sonoma County Environmental Health or the City of Santa Rosa (depending on jurisdiction). More information can be found at socoemergency.org/recover.
Sonoma County officials encourage residents to exercise caution as they return to their homes. Please continue to adhere to road closures and any evacuation warnings. Please drive slowly and yield to emergency personnel in the area. The burned areas are under a Public Health Order, and re-entry to these areas is at residents’ own risk. Residents should refrain from entering the burn footprint without personal protective equipment and should not begin cleanup activities until authorized by Sonoma County Department of Health Services, Environmental Health. Hazardous debris after a wildfire can be toxic, and improper transport and disposal of fire debris can create dangerous health impacts throughout the community.
Disturbing the ash can potentially disqualify a property from any Phase 2 government-sponsored debris removal program. The state defines “disturbing the ash” to mean any change in the size of the ash footprint (either enlarging it by adding debris or reducing it by sweeping or raking the ash). Fire survivors who enter their properties looking for small objects that may have survived the fire, and do not disturb the ash footprint, should not be disqualified from any public debris removal program. However, the state will decide on a case-by-case basis on the extent of the ash disturbance. Additional information about returning home safely, and household hazardous waste and debris removal can be found at socoemergency.org/recover.
The county is still under public health orders for COVID-19, so requirements for physical distancing, wearing a facial covering, and not gathering with people outside of your household are still in effect. Continue to wear a cloth or surgical mask to protect yourself against COVID-19, but note they do not protect you from wildfire smoke. Instead, wear a N95 respirator mask to protect your lungs from wildfire smoke. If your N95 has a one-way valve, prevent the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a cloth face covering or surgical mask on top of your N95 mask. For more information about the health order, visit socoemergency.org/emergency/novel-coronavirus.