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Fire Recovery & Resources

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On September 9th, 2020 San Mateo County Health Officer Scott Morrow declared a health emergency due to the public health threat of hazardous waste from wildfires. The Health Order prohibits the unsafe removal, transport, and disposal of fire debris to ensure safety of residents and the environment.

Exhibit A Protecting Public Health From Fire Ash: English | Español

Returning Home After a Wildfire – Important Information

Many hazards are present after a wildfire. Follow these safety precautions to protect your health and ensure financial eligibility for cleanup assistance:

  • Returning Home After a Wildfire: English | Español
  • Wells: English
  • Septic Tanks: English 
  • Do not move or remove ash, debris, or household hazardous waste.
  • Moving onto property prior to debris removal will likely render you ineligible for State or Federal cleanup assistance.
  • Contact Environmental Health Services for more information at (650) 372-6200 or envhealth@smcgov.org.

Phase I: Household Hazardous Waste Removal

Phase I is the emergency removal of small quantities of household hazardous waste (HHW) from residences. If you have large quantities of HHW, or if you have HHW but do not have a residential property, contact Environmental Health Services for further direction. 

  • The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) began its cleanup of HHW in Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties on 10/1/2020. Check the County’s Wildfire Recovery Page for the status of Phase I.
  • You do not need to do anything during this phase of cleanup. It is already being conducted at no cost to you.

Phase II: Removal of Ash and Debris

  • Fire debris is not being accepted at landfills or transfer stations at this time.
  • Phase II details are pending. Please revisit this page at a later date for more information. 
  • You will need approval from Environmental Health Services prior to commencing any removal of burned structural material or HHW from your property.
  • For details pertaining to required debris removal steps, please refer to Debris Removal FAQ: English | Español.

Prior to Rebuilding

  • Details to come.

Contact Information & Additional Resources

For questions about household hazardous waste or debris removal, please contact Environmental Health Services at (650) 372-6200 or envhealth@smcgov.org

For additional wildfire recovery resources, visit the County’s Wildfire Recovery Page.

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