State Begins Cleanup Efforts in Butte Fire Burn Area

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CALAVERAS COUNTY  --

Through melted metal and ash, a team from the Department of Toxic Substances Control tests what’s left of a home on Jesus Maria Road.

The Butte Fire has come and gone, but the danger for property owners isn’t over yet.

Calaveras County, along with Cal Recycle, sent teams into areas affected by the Butte Fire on Wednesday.

These are the beginning efforts of cleaning up and deeming these sites safe.

“We don’t care if it was permitted or not permitted. We don’t care if anything was going on in the property. Our focus is to remove the material, give them the property back,” Dean Peterson, the debris removal operations chief with Calaveras County said.

Peterson said it’s a free service provided by the state. Cleanup that should be handled by experts.

Authorities don’t want residents to take on the cleaning themselves because sifting through this mess could be potentially dangerous,

“You’re going to have a lot of heavy metals that are in here and that gets into the air and floats out, which is just not good. It’s respiratory, it’s a skin irritant,” Peterson explained.

Ross Pebley is one of the 250 property owners who have signed up so far.

“(I think it’s) good. I’m glad the state is going to take care of it,” Pebley said.

He is especially grateful because he didn’t have insurance. Now, he can just focus on rebuilding.

“I'm happy I'm alive, you know, give me a new house and I'll be good,” he said.

If you were affected by the Butte Fire and have questions about the state’s efforts to clean up, you can call the Calaveras County Environmental Health Department at (209)754-6399.