Creek Fire victims will get financial help to clear toxic debris from property

Local leaders say it's "all hands on deck" to bring relief for communities affected by the fires. staff KFSN logo
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Creek Fire victims will get funds to clear toxic debris from property
California will get federal funding to deal with the aftermath of wildfires burning in seven counties, including the Creek Fire.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Smoke damage from the Creek Fire has left Amanda Arteno's house unlivable.

But her home is not her top concern.

"Priority one - before I even get in my house again has got to be me cleaning this up," Arteno says.

She's concerned about debris left behind on her property in the firefight that's now left for her to take care of.

"Time is very limited because it is going to rain and snow. And the county does say that we are responsible for the cleanup," she says.

The destruction of the Creek Fire left toxic debris across mountain communities.

It will be an 'all hands on deck' expense for local, state and federal agencies to clean it up.

But help is on the way.

After California was denied federal funding on Thursday for wildfires burning in seven counties, President Donald Trump's administration reversed course on Friday.

Trump approved a Major Disaster Declaration for the incident.

These are federal dollars that Assemblyman Jim Patterson says can't come soon enough - especially for those who are uninsured.

"The people up there can not afford to pay $40,000 or $50,000 to get the debris removed," said Patterson.

California Assemblymember Jim Patterson of Fresno said that debris cleanup would begin "almost immediately" in impacted areas and that cleanup efforts will be split between state and county 75% to 25% respectively.

Earlier, Patterson had called the denial of federal funding "bipartisan disgust."

Gov. Gavin Newsom has estimated potential federal assistance needed at $346 million, including $200 million for the Creek Fire alone.

"If we don't get into those areas quickly we are going to miss this window and we are going to end up seeing mudslides where this toxic debris goes into the San Joaquin River watershed," he said.

At the next county supervisors meeting, there will be a request for up to $18 million to pay for the county's share of toxic debris removal.