The safe removal of fire debris and ash is a large undertaking following a wildfire. Ash and debris may contain hazardous materials that can threaten public health. Debris must be inspected before it can be removed. This inspection is conducted by federal, state, or local hazardous materials agencies.

Wildfire cleanup process and order of operations

In the event of a large wildfire that destroys structures, San Luis Obispo County plans to use the state-managed debris removal program. The program has two phases: Phase 1 - Removal of household hazardous waste and Phase 2 - Removal of other fire-related debris.

Phase 1 – Household hazardous material inspection removal

During Phase 1, properties would be inspected and any household hazardous waste that may pose a threat to human health, animals, and the environment are removed.

Phase I is automatic and includes both residential and commercial properties destroyed by the fires.

Phase 2 – Fire debris removal

During Phase 2, local officials would coordinate with the State’s Debris Task Force and Debris Management Teams (DMT) to conduct fire - related debris removal. Two options would be available to residents. Option One: Opt-In would be for residents who opt-in for the government-sponsored program. Option Two: Opt-Out would be for residents who opt-out of the Fire Debris Removal Program.

Private cleanups

This program would not be mandatory. Property owners who did not qualify for, or who decided not to participate in, the state program could work with local officials for information on contractor requirements and cleanup standards.
Following a disaster in San Luis Obispo County, specific information would be provided about cleanup and debris removal to assist those affected in their recovery process.