Debris removal after the wildfire is important to help property owners recover. Debris and ash pose health risks to residents, so efforts are made to remove the risks. State agencies, local government, and property owners work together to complete a two-phase removal process, the Consolidated Debris Removal Program.
The Phase 1 process is done automatically for all residential properties that have been damaged to ensure properties are safe and to minimize dangerous exposure. The Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) works with the Local Recovery Team to inspect the property and remove household hazardous waste that may pose a threat to human health, animals, and the environment. This can include things like batteries, herbicides, pesticides, propane tanks, asbestos siding, and paints. If hazardous household materials cannot be safely removed, they are marked for removal during Phase 2.
- In Mariposa County, Phase 1 began on Monday, August 15th, and was completed Friday, August 26th. You can view more information by clicking here.
Once Phase 1 is complete, property owners have options for the cleanup of debris. Whichever option you choose, you are encouraged to wait to begin clean-up until you have a chance to explore both options, as starting clean-up may disqualify you from the no out-of-pocket cost option or impact insurance claims. It is highly recommended that you speak with your insurance provider. The estimated timeline for Phase 2 completion by the County program is the end of 2022.
Option 1: Is a no out-of-pocket cost option for properties with damage to structures that are a cumulative 120 sq. ft. or larger. The Phase 2 Debris Removal Call Center can provide more information: 209-247-7821.
- Step 1: Property owner completes a Right-of-Entry (ROE) Form (link) by September 30th.
- Step 2: Site & Asbestos Assessment, Asbestos Abatement, Started September 7th, 2022
- Crews document the state of damaged properties before debris removal, including noting property size, damaged structures, hazards including asbestos, and screening for the presence of radiological materials and mercury. For properties with potential asbestos, crews test suspected parcels and abate asbestos properties with positive results.
- To view a map highlighting the progress of this step, please visit the dashboard.
- Step 3: Ash and Debris Removal
- Debris crews will remove debris and ash, including metals, household contents, vehicles, concrete, and soil. Tree crews may remove hazardous trees on the property that may compromise the safety of debris crews working onsite. Property owners will be contacted 24-48 hours before this step occurs.
- Step 4: Soil Sampling
- Environmental Teams will collect and send for testing soil samples from the areas where debris has been removed to ensure the soil meets the project clean-up goals and/or background sample results. Ensuring all fire-related contamination to the soil has been removed.
- Step 5: Hazard Tree Removal
- Tree crews will work to remove hazardous trees on private property that threaten public health and safety on the Right of Way (ROW), including roadways and public infrastructure.
- Step 6: Erosion Control
- Erosion control measures are determined property by property, with appropriate action being taken for each site prior to the end of Phase 2.
Option 2: Another option is to hire a licensed contractor and use homeowner’s insurance. It is recommended that property owners become familiar with the insurance policy, as it may only cover partial clean-up, and the homeowner is responsible for the remaining expense.
Clean-up must take place in accordance with Mariposa County Ordinance 1179, an Ordinance Establishing Procedures and Requirements for Fire Debris and Hazard Tree Removal. The homeowner would need to obtain the necessary permits required for debris removal and restorations, hire appropriately qualified professionals to conduct the required testing, and transport waste to a Class III Landfill (Mariposa Landfill is not qualified). Details on what property owners/contractors are responsible for can be found at the end of the Alternative Program Interim Urgency Ordinance here.
For more information, contact Environmental Health at (209) 966-2220. An Environmental Specialist can talk with homeowners about the standards needed and costs associated with debris removal.
For more detailed information on the Interim Urgency Ordinances for Oak Fire Debris and Hazard Tree Removal, visit:
Frequently Asked Questions
What do I need to do?
If you want to be eligible for the state-funded program and have the debris removed with no out-of-pocket costs, do not begin cleaning up your property.
For Phase 1: You do not need to take any action for household hazardous waste to be removed from your property. Operations are automatic. If you keep a gate to the property locked, please reach out to Mariposa County Environmental Health at 209-966-2220.
For Phase 2: The Mariposa County team will provide a Right-of-Entry permit and education for those interested in Phase 2. You will need to complete the form to grant government contractors access to your property for debris removal. Additional information on this step will be coming soon.
Can I Go Back to my property to see if I can find any valuables or mementos?
Sifting through your property will not make you ineligible for the no cost debris removal process. Do not start moving debris outside the structural footprint, separating debris into piles, or recovering items for recycling. It is important to be mindful of health and safety risks associated with burned property if you choose to do this. Proper protective gear includes eye protection, masks, gloves, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants. You should do your best to minimize contact with fire debris. Additional health and safety information can be found here.
Can I be on my Property during the Clean-up?
Yes, but there will be safe areas established that you must remain in to protect both your safety as well as the safety of the contractors.
What about the Environmental Concerns?
Environmental concerns are a large part of fire recovery. During the debris removal process, the first step is to remove household hazardous waste to ensure it is disposed of properly. Additionally, soil testing is included in the debris removal process. Additional information on fire recovery and the environment can be found here.
Can I have the debris removed myself?
Once the household hazardous waste is removed, property owners can opt to hire their own contractors to remove the remaining debris. If you want to learn more about this alternate option, please call Mariposa County Environmental Health at 209-966-2220.
For some other common questions, please view our Debris Removal FAQ here.