This week, hazmat teams began the first phase of cleanup following the destructive Camp Fire — removing hazardous waste like asbestos and propane tanks from burn areas in Butte County. Officials say this step will take about four months to fully complete.
The second phase of the program — hauling away more than 8 million tons of ash, contaminated soil, concrete and metal — is expected to begin in January and take about a year, according to Mark Ghilarducci, director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES).
“It will take a herculean effort to be able to effectively, safely and rapidly get all the debris out of the area,” Ghilarducci told residents at a Wednesday community meeting.
The removal of more than 18,000 burned-down structures, including nearly 14,000 residences and more than 500 commercial buildings, is the biggest wildfire cleanup job the state has ever undertaken, dwarfing the cleanup from the 2017 North Bay firestorm.
“When we were all said and done with that operation, we removed enough debris to make two Golden Gate Bridges, if you could imagine,” Ghilarducci said. “In this case we are at least four times as much debris.”