Hazard Advisory

Notice: The Placer County health officials strongly recommend no habitation of destroyed property until property is declared clear of hazardous waste and structural ash and debris by Placer County Environmental Health.


Hazards Advisory for Properties Outside of the Burn Area 

  • When an area is repopulated, we ask those residents to please be mindful of people working in the area as essential services are restored.  
  • Stay vigilant as you drive into areas that have been impacted by the fire as road crews, firefighters, and other personnel are focused on completing their assignments.  
  • As traffic flow is introduced into these areas, people may be more focused on the damage and not aware of their immediate surroundings.  
  • Please stay alert and pay attention. 
  • Report downed power lines, the smell of propane, or other hazardous conditions by calling 911 immediately

While the Sheriff's Office—in consultation with unified commanders, fire operations, and cooperators has determined the area is safe for your return, it is possible that some services have not been fully restored. 

  • Be prepared for not having power. 
  • Be prepared for having to access food and fuel at locations outside the current evacuation areas. 
  • Wildfire smoke may continue to adversely impact air quality. Monitor conditions and take appropriate action to protect your and your family’s health. 
  • Fire retardant can be slick when wet, please use extra caution if you are traveling on roadways where retardant is still present.

Hazards Advisory for Properties Within the Burn Area

You are entering a hazardous area. Enter at your own risk. 


In the burn area, you will encounter dangerous conditions and will be exposed to toxic materials that may include but are not limited to:

  • Embers/Hot Ash
  • Uneven ground
  • Unstable structures
  • Puncture Hazards, including: broken pipes, exposed nails, broken glass, damaged structural elements
  • Slippery surfaces
  • Toxic airborne particles
  • Hazardous materials, including: ash, asbestos, heavy metals, oils, fire retardants, pesticides, and more

Wear protective gear and minimize time of exposure


DEBRIS AND HAZARDOUS WASTE

Fire Damage can create significant health and safety hazards that may be present at individual properties. It is recommended that structure ash is not disturbed due to potential exposure to toxic materials. If you choose to visit your property, please consider the following:

  • Wear sturdy shoes (steel toes and shanks are recommended) and clothing
  • Hazardous chemicals and conditions may be present
  • Inspect propane tanks for visible damage before turning on
  • Cover all clothing when in proximity to ash. Wear gloves, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants to avoid skin contact, whenever possible. Goggles should be worn. Contact with wet ash may cause chemical burns or irritation on skin. Change your shoes and clothing prior to leaving the decontamination site, to avoid tracking ash into your car, home, etc.
  • Anything in contact with ash should be cleaned and sanitized. Sorting through/cleaning fire debris is not recommended
  • Be aware of slip, trip, fall, puncture, and overhead hazards
  • Do not use leaf blowers or do any activities that will put ash into the air
  • Wear a close fitting respirator mask that is rated N-95 or P-100 to block particles from ash or smoke from being inhaled. N-95 respirators are well-fitted when they do not come into contact with facial hair; strap tension is adequate, not overly tightened; and masks fit across the nose bridge. A tight seal would not be possible for most children, even with a small adult-size model. People with heart or lung disease should consult their physician before using a respirator. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is the only agency that certifies respirators to determine that they adequately protect people. Look for NIOSH approval on the package or label


DO NOT REMOVE ASH AND DEBRIS WITHOUT APPROVAL FROM PLACER COUNTY ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH


The county is working with state and federal partners for options to asses all properties for household hazardous waste, asbestos, and potential removal of those materials from each property. Household hazardous waste, asbestos, and structural ash removal options are under development and will be announced to the public soon. Do not take debris or ash to landfills, transfer stations or dumpsters because it may be contaminated.

DANGEROUS DEBRIS

After a devastating fire, homeowners are often eager to return to their homes to see what can be recovered. While it is best to contact your local city or county for guidance about entering your property, homeowners should be aware of the immediate and long term health risks associated with exposure to residential wildfire ash and debris. Whenever possible, residents should avoid or minimize contact with residential wildfire debris.

What Is In Residential Wildfire Debris?

Based on part analysis of homes and structures burned by wildires, the resulting ash and debris can contain some or all of the following:

  • Tiny particles of dust, dirt and soot that can easily become airborne and inhaled
  • Toxic amounts of heavy metals including arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, and mercury
  • Asbestos
  • Hazardous materials such as propane tanks, air conditioners, batteries, cleaning products, pesticides, and herbicides

Reducing Your Exposure

While sifting through residential wildfire debris may not be prohibited, for your safety and the safety of others, it is not recommended. In addition to irritating your skin, nose, and throat, substances like asbestos and cadmium have been known to cause cancer. Property owners who want to search debris for possible salvageable items should do so with caution and with proper protective gear.

  • Avoid disturbing debris or kicking up ash
  • NIOSH-certified air-purifying respirator masks are highly recommended. A mask rated N-95 is more effective at blocking particles from ash
  • Wear gloves, long shirts, pants, safety eyewear, and other clothing
  • It's best to change shoes and clothing as soon as you are off-site to avoid contaminating your vehicles, your home, or other non-contaminated areas
  • Even with protective clothing and respirators, children should not be exposed to wildfire ash and debris

Additional information on how to protect yourself from ash.

TREE DAMAGE

Many trees have been identified as hazardous due to the fire and will be removed in the coming days. These trees may be on your property or near your property.

ELECTRICAL HAZARDS

Be alert: If you see downed power lines near your home, treat them as if they are "live" or energized. Never touch them, stay away and keep other away. Report them to 911 and then call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000. Slowdown in areas where road construction or tree work is taking place.

Check for damaged wiring. Turn off power at the main switch and consult with an electrician if you suspect any damage.

Report unsafe conditions. If you suspect another emergency, leave the area immediately and call 911.

Call before you dig. Be sure to call 811 at least two business days before you or a contractor start any digging project for a rebuild.

Generator installation: Make sure any permanent standby electric generator is installed by a licensed electrician. Improperly installed generators can pose a significant safety hazard. 

If using a portable generator to plug in appliances, make sure it is outdoors in a well ventilated area.

ELECTRIC RESTORATION PROCESS

ONCE FIRE OFFICIALS DEEM THAT IS IS SAFE FOR PG&E TO WORK IN AFFECTED AREAS, THE MAIN STEPS OF THE ASSESSMENT AND RESTORATION PROCESS ARE:

  • Damage assessment, which may take 24 to 48 hours to complete depending on accessibility and terrain
  • PG&E workers will be on site to make the area safe by isolating electrical hazards. The next steps are equipment repairs and coordinated restoration
  • Based on Needed repairs and time to complete work, an estimated time fore restoration is established and communicated to customers
  • Prior to safely re-energizing homes and businesses, PG&E inspects adjacent facilities and ensure locations are safe to receive power
  • Where safe to do so and if access is allowed, restoring services typically takes 48 to 72 hours depending on the extent of damage and complexity of the work

INSPECTION PLACARDS FOR STRUCTURES IN DISASTER AREAS

Building inspectors continue to inspect structures that are in evacuation zones. Upon returning to your property, you may see one of three different types of placards posted by the Placer County Building Division - a green placard, a yellow placard, or a red placard. Be sure to read all notes on the placard. Do not remove, alter, or cover placards until authorized by the Placer County Building Division.

Green


The green placard means the structure is "Safe for Occupancy". Your structure is safe to occupy as long as it has water, electrical, and gas service (if gas appliances). Structures may be damaged, yet the safety of the structure was not significantly changed by the disaster.


Yellow


The yellow placard means the structure has been damaged and occupancy is restricted as noted on the placard as long as you have water, electricity, and gas (if applicable). Repairs require permits from the County.


Red


The red placard means "No Entry". Structures are damaged and pose an imminent threat to life or safety under expected loads or other unsafe conditions. Do not enter these structures.



Please note: Although a structure may be placarded "Inspected" or "Restricted Use", specific areas in and around the building could be further identified as unsafe.

If you believe your home or business has been damaged and has no placard posted, please contact the Placer County Building Division at 530-745-3000, email: [email protected].