Dean James at Right Wing Tribune
For God’s sake, this is ridiculous but it’s true.
Environmental officials have prevented fire crews from cleaning up debris left from the deadly fire in the once beautiful beachtown of Paradise.
The Sacramento Bee reports that State officials tasked with debris cleanup say they have been directed not to enter an estimated 800 burned Butte County home sites within 100 feet of a waterway. They’ve been told to wait for representatives of several state and federal agencies to reach an agreement on environmental assessment guidelines.
The issue cropped up well into a yearlong, estimated $2 billion-plus cleanup operation at about 11,000 properties in Paradise, Concow, and Magalia that burned in November’s Camp Fire, the most destructive blaze in state history.
The revelation that some stream-side properties are now on hold triggered a strong public rebuke Thursday from two local legislators who said they heard about the issue from angry constituents on the ridge.
In statement calling the situation “absurd,” Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Tehama, and Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, lamented “that frogs, birds and waterways are causing work to stop in some areas.”
Inland Region Administrator for the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, Eric Lamoureux said, “We are close to finalizing those plans. We are trying to balance the need to get these properties cleared as quickly as possible but also protecting our environment out there.”
Lamoureux said that cleanup efforts haven’t been slowed or stopped by the finalizing of guidelines but many people disagree.
The DCNF reports that Clear Creek resident Alicia Rock claimed that cleanup on her property was meant to begin on Tuesday but has been indefinitely postponed due to a lack of official guidelines. Rock’s home was destroyed in the fire.
“I have followed the process to a T. Now I am being held up,” she said. “Come on guys, you’ve had six months. You knew this was coming,” Rock said, according to the Bee.
Rock also called the situation “stupid” and said that officials should have prepared for what they knew would happen.
Rock alleges that she told state officials in early winter that debris from the fire was piling up in streams and creeks and that they should have thought ahead to prepare for the current situation dampening rebuilding efforts.
There are over 140 cleanup teams working on clearing sites in Paradise, with teams averaging roughly 100 sites per day, according to the Bee. Cleanup trucks are pulling debris and top soil from burned homes and depositing the material into plastic vessels which are transported to landfills in Northern California.
The Camp Fire was California’s deadliest and most destructive fire in history, according to CBS News. The fire destroyed over 18,000 buildings and killed 85 people. Authorities were unable to account for roughly 1,200 other people. The fire burned down the town of Paradise, and its 27,000 residents were forced to leave to find new homes or rebuild.
Camp Fire did more than $11 billion in damage, CBS reported. Experts have estimated that rebuilding after the wildfires destroyed large swaths of California will cost the state up to $13 billion.