SQF Complex: Debris removal begins as concern over 'debris flow' grows

Those who lost property in the fire must register with FEMA by November 23rd to be eligible for financial relief.
TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- The past couple of months have been a daze for Jody Mead.

Around the time her husband was hospitalized with a brain bleed, she found out their part-time home was destroyed by the Castle Fire, part of the SQF Complex.

"This is about the second, third time I've come up here," Mead told Action News on Thursday. "But really by myself, this is it. So I wanted to kind of say goodbye."

Mead sifted through some of the rubble, only finding a few items she wanted to take back to her other home in Porterville.

In the coming days, crews from the Department of Toxic Substance Control will remove any household or electronic hazardous waste from her property.

The state agency tells Action News that phase two of debris removal for residents, which includes ash and other debris, will be managed by Cal Recycle.

Jody is just grateful she doesn't have to do the work on her own.

"You've got all that ash, and I just don't think I would want to get in there and do that," she said.

Debris removal from homes and cabins is ongoing.

But officials are more worried about what's known as debris flow - rocks and trees that can move downhill with large quantities of water, following a winter storm.

Tulare County's Ross Miller says areas in and around the SQF Fire burn zone are at an elevated risk of debris flow.

"These can come incredibly fast and with very little warning," Miller said. "They are capable of moving at the speed of a car even and in large enough situations, they can even pick up cars and houses and carry them downstream with them."

FEMA wants those who still have property in a burn scar area to think about getting flood insurance, and soon, because there's typically a 30-day wait period before the policy goes into effect.

Those who lost property in the fire must register with FEMA by November 23rd to be eligible for financial relief.
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