Proceed with caution when cleaning up after 49 Fire

By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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Cleanup from the 49 Fire won’t be an easy task. Dozens of homeowners are faced with removal of ashes and the charred remains of structures. Destroyed appliances need to be hauled away and shells of vehicles recycled. Jill Pahl, Placer County environmental health director, says safety should be the prime consideration. Dry, blowing ash can create serious health concerns. “They should wet down the ash to keep it from becoming airborne,” Pahl said. Unfortunately for many, it may not be a matter of connecting the hose to the nearest faucet. If the hose bib is melted, use a neighbor’s faucet or contact the county to bring in a water truck, she said. Removing the ashes is a priority, but they must be delivered to the Western Placer Waste Management Authority, located between Roseville and Lincoln. “Do not put it in trash cans or Dumpsters for pickup,” Pahl said. “We’re trying to get it directly to the landfill without being handled by garbage workers, to minimize exposure. When they get to the gate of the landfill, they should identify it as fire debris. (Landfill personnel) know the stuff is coming.” Do-it-yourselfers can rent a Bobcat or backhoe to clear the debris on their property. At Placer Equipment Rental and Ready Mix in Auburn, a Bobcat rental is $225 per day and a backhoe is $325 per day plus delivery. An employee, who did not provide her name, said the business is offering a discount to fire victims. Residents can rent Dumpsters from Auburn Placer Disposal Service for other non-hazardous waste. The cost of a 20-yard container is $312.20 for seven days including delivery and pickup. “For food debris, spoiled food, typical garbage stuff, use your Dumpster or trash can,” Pahl said. Auburn Placer Disposal has been visiting the burned-out areas on a daily basis for pick-ups. “People are putting cans out every day,” operations manager Frank Tomayo said. “They’ve been very good about putting in only non-hazardous stuff.” Placer County is providing frequent pick-ups in the area for household hazardous waste, he said. Burned-out appliances go directly to the landfill. But any Freon must be removed and disposed of separately. Destroyed vehicles must be taken to a metal scrap recycler. “The DMV can look up the vehicle identification number and provide a junk slip,” Pahl said. A list of vehicle recycling locations is available through the county emergency assistance center Those who did not lose everything, but had smoke or fire-retardant damage, face another challenge — getting the items cleaned and deodorized. At Elm Dry Cleaners, employee Kamal Virk said it is often possible to completely eliminate smoke stains. “As a matter of fact, we’re taking care of a customer (who had smoke damage),” Virk said “We’re doing all her bedding and clothes.” Items that got wet need to be cleaned as soon as possible but don’t put stained items in the dryer because it will set the stain, she said. Even after the deodorizing process, there still might a faint smell. “Let the (items) air out over the weekend,” Virk said. “When you get them home, instead of putting them in the closet or cupboards, let them air out.” Gloria Young can be reached at ------------------------------------------ FIRE CLEANUP RESOURCES Western Placer Waste Management Authority 3033 Fiddyment Road, Lincoln Phone: (916) 543-3960 See for a list of fees Auburn Placer Disposal Service (530) 885-3735