Sonoma County fire victims apply for toxic debris removal

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- David L'Orange and his wife Siony hosted their daughter's wedding on October 6. Three days later they had to evacuate because a wildfire was bearing down on their neighborhood.

"The house burned down to the ground. Nothing left. Ashes all over the place," L'Orange said. That's why the couple showed up Wednesday at a small application center in Santa Rosa. It's where fire victims could apply to have their debris cleaned up by the Army Corps of Engineers. "Our goal is to be as helpful as we can, have enough stations open and try to get through as quickly as possible," Sonoma County Department of Environmental Health Director Christine Sosko said. Her agency is processing the applications.

Currently, the EPA is going over the burned out properties to identify toxics and hazardous materials. Then the corps of Engineers will go through and clear away debris from homes that have filled out the "right of entry" paperwork. That paperwork allows the corps to enter the property and begin the removal process. It's entirely voluntary, and for many, homeowners insurance will help pick up the cost. For those whose insurance doesn't cover it, officials will help identify other ways to defray some of the cost.

The center opened Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. It's scheduled to remain open for at least two weeks, or maybe longer, if people continue coming in.
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