CALAVERAS COUNTY -- Nearly nine months after the Butte Fire ripped through Calaveras and Amador counties, the property clean up is complete. Crews loaded the last of the debris in a truck and hauled it off Thursday afternoon.
The Butte Fire's 23 days of destruction burned 851 properties to the ground. It took hundreds of workers hundreds of days but they're finally done clearing and testing the last property.
"The home site is returned to the homeowner in such a manner where they can either rebuild or sell," said Todd Thalhamer with CalRecycle.
With the lift of a front loader, the debris, a constant reminder of the deadly fire, is now gone from an area on Baker Riley Way. And with the lift of a glass of sparkling cider, a toast to being one step closer to normalcy.
The process hasn't been easy. Getting trucks up and down the windy, unpaved roads and navigating through more than 70,000 acres of charred land is a challenge.
"Crews working in multiple jurisdictions, multiple trucks going in different directions, just trying to keep control of an operation of this size," said Thalhamer.
Even with obstacles, debris clearance crews were able to complete their clean up in seven months. There's still a lot of work to be done including tree removal and road repairs, but for now they celebrate the accomplishment.
"It's just amazing and we're ready to move on," said Calaveras County spokesperson Sharon Torrence.