California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

Disaster Preparedness and Response

CalRecycle Wildfire Recovery

Every year, California faces the threat of devastating wildfires that have the potential to claim lives, destroy property, and harm the environment. Wildfire debris removal programs are implemented under the leadership of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) and local governments. CalRecycle is often tasked with overseeing and managing contractors and consultants to conduct debris removal operations on private properties at no out-of-pocket cost to homeowners. Homeowners who choose to participate in these state-managed cleanup programs are required to return signed Right of Entry forms to their local governments.

In late 2017, California experienced a rash of fast-moving fires that caused unprecedented damage to communities in Northern and Southern California.

CalRecycle has been involved in past cleanup efforts for several large wildfires and has prepared the resources and guidance below to help local governments with wildfire debris management and disposal, household hazardous waste collection and storage, and ash cleanup and disposal.

Resources for Homeowners

Resources for Local Jurisdictions

Depending on the circumstances and extent of damage caused by a wildfire, local government jurisdictions develop a coordinated approach to fire debris cleanup. This could involve:

  • Establishment of standards for cleanup (based on public health and safety findings from prior fires).
  • Local government contracting and management of debris removal from private properties for those entities voluntarily participating in the coordinated program.
  • The use of State-contracted cleanup crews.

Local government jurisdictions choosing to coordinate a fire debris cleanup may also want to consider the following:

  • Establishment of a debris removal operations center;
  • Voluntary participation programs, including the right-of-entry permit, which allows a County/City/State agency to proceed with cleanup on privately owned properties;
  • Household hazardous waste collection/coordination;
  • Removal of landscape/vegetation;
  • Erosion control.

For technical questions regarding wildfire debris and its removal, contact CalRecycle.

Disaster Waste Tracking: Jurisdictions may deduct disaster waste tonnage in their annual reports to CalRecycle so it will not negatively impact their solid waste diversion rates. In order for jurisdictions to claim this disposal reduction, it is essential that disaster waste be tracked separately from other waste at disposal facilities. For each disaster waste load received, facilities must record the tons by jurisdiction. Local government and emergency personnel have the most specific knowledge of areas that burned and facilities that are or will be receiving disaster waste. We ask that you notify all applicable facilities regarding these record-keeping needs.

The following documents provide CalRecycle guidance for local disaster response efforts:


Last updated: June 20, 2018
Disaster Preparedness and Response
Office of Public Affairs: (916) 341-6300