SACRAMENTO – As wildfire season reaches its peak in California, the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) continues to help communities rebuild and recover by removing toxic waste from fire-damaged areas. Starting today, DTSC will remove household hazardous waste in areas of El Dorado County devastated by the Caldor Fire.

DTSC emergency response crews assessed and removed household hazardous waste from Walt Tyler Elementary School in Grizzly Flats, CA. The school was destroyed by the Caldor Fire. Photo courtesy DTSC

The Caldor Fire began on Aug. 14, 2021 in El Dorado County and is currently burning in El Dorado and Amador counties, scarring over 220,000 acres so far.

DTSC’s emergency response team has been mission tasked by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) to conduct operations on properties impacted by the Caldor Fire in El Dorado County.

DTSC’s operations include safely identifying and removing household hazardous waste (HHW) and bulk asbestos from damaged properties that could pose a risk to people, animals and the environment. HHW can include paint, pesticides, pool chemicals, aerosol cans, propane cylinders, compressed gas cylinders, and batteries.

“Californians have dealt with tremendous loss due to wildfires in recent years,” DTSC Director Meredith Williams said. “Our emergency crews have been cleaning up fire after fire already this season and we continue to work hand-in-hand with other agencies to help the people and protect the environment of California.”

This year, DTSC’s work includes removing HHW from seven fires spanning 10 counties total. The Department has already cleaned up 854 damaged properties of over 2,300 identified.

DTSC’s emergency response team has completed crucial cleanup work after the following fires: Tamarack Fire (eight properties in Alpine County); Beckwourth Fire (144 properties in Lassen and Plumas counties); and Cache Fire (70 properties in Lake County).

It is currently conducting cleanup operations for the Dixie Fire (566 properties in Plumas, Lassen, and Tehama counties); and the River Fire (78 properties in Nevada and Placer counties).

DTSC is also starting operations on the Monument Fire (Trinity County), and the Lava Fire and Antelope fires (Siskiyou County) this week.

Current Caldor Fire damage estimates are about 1,000 structures destroyed in El Dorado County, nearly 800 of those are residential. DTSC started removing HHW in the Grizzly Flats area. There have been 14 properties identified for the Antelope Fire; 41 for the Monument Fire; and 47 for the Lava Fire.

Last year’s wildfire season was record-setting, with over 4 million acres burned and 30 lives lost in California.

DTSC tracks its wildfire hazardous waste cleanup on a public, real-time dashboard mapping system. Information will be uploaded as soon as it becomes available.

More information on DTSC’s emergency response to wildfires can be found on the department’s website.

For more information on the state’s wildfire recovery efforts, please visit Cal OES’s dedicated page.