BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. - Dr. Robert Bernstein, Butte County health officer, has issued a hazard advisory strongly suggesting no habitation of destroyed property due to the North Complex West Zone until property is declared clear of hazardous waste and structural ash and debris by Butte County Environmental Health.
Cal Fire Public Information officer, Rick Carhart says there are many potential risks in burn scar areas, like weak trees, power poles or other tall structures that may have become unstable after the fire.
He says tree stumps could also be dangerous because they may have burned holes in the ground that are not visible on the surface.
Carhart says there could also be chemicals inside or around homes that could be hazardous. People should be alert and pay attention to any strange odors.
The press release issued by the public health department says there is evidence from recent fires in California that homes and other types of property destroyed by fire contain high and concerning levels of heavy metals, lead, mercury, dioxin, arsenic, and/or other carcinogens.
It also says some property may have the presence of radioactive materials. Exposure to hazardous substances may lead to acute and chronic health effects, and may cause long-term public health and environmental impacts.
As areas affected by the fire with destroyed homes and property are opened to residents, residents will have limited access to visit property to collect recognizable belongings and mementoes that may have survived the fire.
Residents should review the health and safety precaution for re-entry packet, which will be distributed at controlled re-entry checkpoints. The county is working with various state and federal partners to establish a process for the assessment and removal of household hazardous waste and asbestos, as well as structural ash and debris from the fire.
This process will be announced to the public upon its completion.
To know more about how you can stay safe when returning to assess damages in fire impacted areas, CLICK HERE.