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Creek Fire: No Out of Pocket Cost for Property Cleanup Available, But There’s a Catch



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Federal and state agencies are preparing to assist with the clean up of properties impacted by the Creek Fire, with no out-of-pocket cost to homeowners, Fresno Assemblyman Jim Patterson said this week.

But there’s a catch, he warned.

Residents can’t have already begun the clean-up process using a private contractor, he said, and those that have started, should stop.

“I have heard from many confused and concerned people eager to cleanup,” Patterson said in a statement on his website.

According to information Patterson’s office has posted, the federal Environmental Protection Agency will begin household hazardous waste removal in fire zones during the first week of November. State agencies will start debris removal in mid-December.

Cleanup Rules

Patterson’s office put out a list of items fire victims to consider before cleaning up their property.

  • Those who want to use a licensed contractor and pay for cleanup with their insurance can officially opt-out of the government cleanup.
  • If you have insurance and want to use the government cleanup, you can, but you must agree to give the “debris removal” portion of your insurance payout to the state.
  • Make sure you property is on the county’s structure status map.
  • If your residence is not listed on the structure status map, call the County of Fresno at (559) 600-5000.

Deadly Landslides Can Follow a Fire

According to research by the University of California, Riverside, a modest rainfall after a wildfire can cause a deadly landslide.

“When fire moves through a watershed, it creates waxy seals that don’t allow water to penetrate the soil anymore,” explained the study’s author James Guilinger, an  doctoral student.

Instead, the rainwater runs off the  causing debris flows, which are fast-moving landslides that usually start on steep hills and accelerate as they move, his report said.

“The water doesn’t behave like water anymore, it’s more like wet cement,” Guilinger said. “It can pick up objects as big as boulders that can destroy infrastructure and hurt or even kill people, which is what happened after the 2018 Thomas Fire in Montecito.”

Federal Disaster Declaration Opens Aid Process

An Oct. 16 federal disaster declaration expanded the availability of aid to California wildfire survivors in seven counties, including Fresno and Madera.

Those with uninsured losses may be eligible for financial assistance.

Funds can help with rent, home repair, home replacement and other disaster-related needs such as childcare, medical and dental expenses.

Officials say potential applicants should contact their insurance company and file a claim for the disaster-caused damage. Photographs or video of the damage should be made and all receipts related to home repair should be kept.

Applications can be made in one of three ways: online at, by downloading and using the FEMA app, or by calling the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362.

Mobile Registration Intake Center Opens in Tulare County

A FEMA Mobile Registration Intake Center serving wildfire survivors is now open in Tulare County. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekends.

The center is a partnership between FEMA and state agencies to support survivors of the SQF Complex Fire, which includes the Castle Fire and Shotgun Fire. It is located in a parking lot on the east side of Tulare County Government Plaza, 1055 W. Henderson Ave., Porterville.