State And Feds Won't Help With Kincade Fire Cleanup

Holly Quan
November 08, 2019 - 10:58 am
4: A structure continues to burn after the Kincade Fire moved through the area on October 24, 2019 in Geyserville, California.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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(KCBS Radio) — The 120-square-mile Kincade Fire in Sonoma County is fully contained, but residents shouldn't expect any help with the cleanup effort from state or federal officials. 

People who were evacuated from the fire zone have gone home, where they're now facing the arduous task of cleaning up their properties and possibly even rebuilding their home from scratch. 

But many fire survivors are learning to their dismay that while the county will stand the cost of removing hazardous debris like batteries, paint and propane tanks, dumping the rest is up to them.

It turns out the Kincade Fire, which destroyed 174 homes and 200 other structures, wasn't quite catastrophic enough to trigger financial help from authorities in Sacramento or Washington. 

Related: Pet Owners Who Fled Kincade Fire Bring Animals Home

By contrast, the Army Corps of Engineers supervised a $1,3-billion cleanup of most of the North Bay burn sites after the Wine Country fires of 2017.

County Supervisor James Gore told KCBS Radio the local assistance with debris removal will be a big help to property owners.

"In the aftermath of something like this, you got to kind of look at your hierarchy of needs and go directly after the people who lost the most — people who lost homes — and help them with debris management on their properties so that we don't repeat some of the wheel that we had to create two years ago," Gore said. 

What the county did then after the 2017 fires, and what it plans to do now, said Gore, is lend a hand to people who lost the most:

"We don't reinvent things, we go right after it and try to cut out all the problem areas we had to learn from on the fly," said Gore. "So the first thing is to wrap yourselves around those folks, like my friends Justin and Karen, who lost three buildings on their property, like my Dad's former business partner, who lost a farmstead, like one of our winery owners up on the hill who lost one of the most beautiful homes in Sonoma County."

The good news is insurance should cover most of the costs incurred by owners whose property was in the path of the fire.