Debris and ash from residential and other structural fires may contain toxic substances due to the presence of synthetic and hazardous materials. Many building materials, such as older plumbing pipe and floor and ceiling tiles contain asbestos, and older buildings often contain lead. Household hazardous waste such as gasoline, cleaning products, pesticides, and other chemicals may have been stored in homes, garages, or sheds that may have burned in the fire. These materials can become concentrated in ash and soil following a fire. It is important not to expose yourself, your family or others to any of these materials. Exposures can occur by sifting through and/or moving ash and debris, causing ash to become airborne and inhaled or ingested.
The City of Clearlake and Lake County Environmental Health are working to secure assistance from State agencies that will ensure proper handling and disposal of debris and ash from the fire. In the meantime, in order to protect your health and the health of your neighbors and your community, property owners are strongly recommended to not begin cleanup activities at this time. Note that a state-sponsored team has surveyed properties in the burn area for asbestos and marked suspected or confirmed asbestos with pink paint. If you come across any of these areas, please do not disturb the material, as it is extremely hazardous.
Lake County is also working with state agencies to safely collect and dispose of household hazardous waste products from burned buildings. This work is scheduled to be completed in the next few days as well.
Because ash and debris generated in the fire may be considered hazardous waste, do not transport ash or debris to landfills and transfer stations at this time. It is recommended that debris and ash from burned structures remain undisturbed until further instructions are issued. This recommendation is in place to protect the health of anyone who may come into contact with the waste, including solid waste facility employees, solid waste haulers, and the public. In addition our local landfill is not able to accept fire debris until the cleanup process is finalized.