The ash and debris that remains from a structure that was destroyed in the wildfires contain hazardous waste and materials that can threaten public health. Therefore, the Ventura County Public Health Officer declared a Local Health Emergency on November 9, 2018 which prohibits the removal of fire debris until an inspection of the debris in conducted by either state, federal, or local hazardous materials agencies.
To expedite recovery activities and ensure the safe removal of hazardous waste and fire debris, Ventura County has requested state and federal assistance to coordinate the removal of hazardous waste and fire debris from structures and properties damaged by the wildfire. More details about this consolidated debris removal program will be posted on this website as soon as they are available.
The Public Health Emergency Declaration also prohibited the delivery of debris bins in the affected areas without the approval from the Ventura County Environmental Health Division (Division). The Division will release debris bins to properties that do not have any destroyed or damaged structures and meet the exemption requirements. This includes removal of smoke damaged personal items and removal of vegetative landscape debris from the fire. In addition, burn debris from fences and structures less than 120 Square feet in size (e.g., gazebos, sheds, and decks) can be cleared from the property if the structures contained no stored paint, pesticides, herbicides, propane, or other similar hazardous substances, and if the best management practices listed in the document are followed. This exemption does not apply to debris containing asbestos.
Hazardous Waste and Structure Fire Debris Clean-up
To expedite recovery activities and ensure the safe removal of hazardous waste and fire debris, the County is coordinating with State agencies to remove hazardous waste and fire debris from structures and properties damaged by the wildfire using the State Fire Debris Removal Program.
There are two phases to this State Fire Debris Removal Program:
- Phase 1: Household hazardous waste (HHW) removal
- Phase 2: Debris and ash removal.
Phase 1: Household Hazardous Waste Removal
During Phase 1, teams from the US EPA or the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), along with the Ventura County Environmental Health Division, will inspect your property and remove any HHW that pose a threat to human health and the environment such as batteries, identifiable asbestos, pesticides, cleaning products and paints. There is no cost to the property owner for this work and you do not need to file a request to participate. Once your property is cleared, a yellow clearance notice will be posted on the property. This phase of the work is expected to begin in early December. The Phase 1 clearance does not include removal of fire debris and ash, which may contain hazardous substances like heavy metals and asbestos fibers. The remaining ash and debris will be removed during Phase 2.
Phase 2: Debris Removal and Property Clean-up
Two options are available to property owners who had structures destroyed by the fire:
- Option 1: CalOES Fire Damage Debris Clearance Program (State Program)
- Option 2: Local Fire Debris Removal Program (Local Program
Option 1: State Program
During Phase 2, teams from the State (CalRecycle) will remove the remaining debris (including building foundations) from properties with destroyed structures. You will need to provide a Right-of-Entry (ROE) application and insurance information before the work can be done. This work will include removal of all structure debris, foundations, trees that present a safety hazard to CalRecycle’s work crews, and some soil to ensure the site is clean and safe for rebuilding. All the work is undertaken by CalRecycle contractors and there is no cost to the property owner. However, any insurance proceeds for debris removal shall be dedicated to off-set costs. The State Program debris removal is expected to begin in January. County Environmental Health Division staff will be available starting in early December to assist property owners with the ROE application process.
Option 2: Local Program
Property owners who do not qualify for, or who chose not to participate in the State Program, must hire a private contractor to remove fire debris and clean up their properties. A Local Fire Debris Removal application and workplan must be approved by the County of Ventura or City of Thousand Oaks, depending on the location of the property, prior to the commencement of work. Private debris removal is done at the homeowner’s expense and must follow standards adopted by the County of Ventura, which mirror the state standards being used by CalOES and CalRecycle for the State Program. Work must be performed by qualified personnel. County Environmental Health Division staff will be available starting in early December to assist property owners with the Local Program work plan process.
Resources: More information and application packets for the State and Local programs will be posted on VenturaCountyRecovers.org when available.
Additional information regarding fire debris removal is provided below.
- Concrete Slabs and Foundations Damaged by Fire 19th January 2018
- Temporary Housing After A Disaster Dec 15, 2017
- Septic System Tips After a Fire - See full PDF: English | Español
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