Wildfire Debris Removal Halted Due to Unstable Rain-Saturated Slopes

March 11, 2019

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — State officials have halted debris removal on Northern California hills scarred by a deadly wildfire because of rain-saturated, unstable slopes.

Work crews and truck drivers removing debris in Paradise have been idled at least until March 19, CalRecycle spokesman Lance Klug said Thursday.

A blaze in November leveled the town, killing at least 85 people and destroying nearly 19,000 buildings.

The government-sponsored debris cleanup began in mid-December and is expected to take a year.

“The recent string of wet weather has created unsafe conditions with over-saturated soil for debris removal workers and truck drivers while limiting the ability of designated landfills to accept material,” Klug said.

Officials and contractors will reassess conditions Tuesday, he said.

Some 11,000 properties in Paradise and the nearby communities of Magalia and Concow are scheduled for cleanup and debris removal. Crews had fully cleaned 213 properties as of this week, the Sacramento Bee reported.

A series of winter storms have drenched the state, increasing the risk of mudslides in-fire scarred hills.

At more than $2 billion, the cleanup is expected to be the costliest in state history.

Paradise residents who had set up trailers to live on their burned-out properties were forced to leave again after federal officials threatened not to pay for cleanup, citing health and safety issues.

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