Dr. Andy Miller, Butte County Health Officer, has issued a hazard advisory strongly suggesting no habitation of destroyed property until property is declared clear of hazardous waste and structural ash and debris by Butte County Environmental Health. There is evidence from recent fires in California that homes and property destroyed by fire contain high and concerning levels of heavy metals, lead, mercury, dioxin, arsenic, and other carcinogens. Some property may have the presence of radio-active materials. Exposure to hazardous substances may lead to acute and chronic health effects, and may cause long-term public health and environmental impacts.
As areas affected by the fire with destroyed homes and property are opened to residents, residents will have limited access to visit property to collect recognizable belongings and mementoes that may have survived the fire. Residents should review the Health and Safety Precaution for Re-entry packet, which will be distributed at controlled re-entry checkpoints.
The County is working with State and Federal partners who will assess each property for hazardous waste and remove those materials from each property. This process will take time. There is no estimate as to how long it will take to assess and remove hazardous materials from each property at this time. After the property has been cleared of hazardous waste, the property owner can sign-up for a State debris removal program at no cost to the property owner.