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​​Wildfire Disaster Debris Management

 Hazardous Waste and Debris Management

The Department of Environmental Health (DEH) Solid Waste Program is certified by the California Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) as the solid waste Local Enforcement Agency (LEA) for the unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County and all cities except the City of San Jose, which serves as its own LEA.  The DEH Hazardous Materials Program is certified by the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) as a Certified Unified Program Agency (CUPA) and is responsible for hazardous waste generators in all areas of the County except the Cities of Gilroy, Santa Clara, and Sunnyvale, which act as their own CUPA.

Many who have lost their homes or suffered damage from the SCU Lightning Complex fires want to begin the rebuilding process as soon as possible.  However, it is critical that this work be done safely.  The County Department of Environmental Health (DEH) has prepared this information to provide you with an overview of debris management operations and requirements.

Sites where residences and other buildings were damaged by fire are often toxic and include household hazardous wastes such as batteries, compressed gas cylinders, pesticides, fertilizers, cleaning chemicals, pool chemicals, paints, thinners, aerosol cans, asbestos construction materials, electronic wastes, and more.  Do not remove hazardous waste from your property or disturb debris within the footprint of any fire-damaged structures before you understand debris management requirements and have spoken with your insurance provider(s).  Improper removal or disturbance of hazardous waste and burn ash can jeopardize both your health and your eligibility for financial assistance with cleanup.

The safe clean-up of fire-damaged properties occurs in the following two phases, described in more detail below: 

  • Phase 1: Removal of Household Hazardous Waste
  • Phase 2: Removal of Fire-Related Ash and Debris

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Phase 1: Removal of Hazardous Waste
The USEPA will be leading the Phase 1 survey, removal, and disposal of household hazardous waste at properties affected by the SCU Lightning Complex fires in Santa Clara County.  While a specific start date has not been established, The USEPA is actively coordinating with the County and making plans to perform this work soon.  The following factsheet provides answers to the most common questions about Phase 1. 

Phase 2: Removal of Fire-Related Ash and Debris
Once Phase 1 is confirmed to be complete, fire-related ash and debris may then be carefully removed and discarded or recycled.  

The County has received notice that Phase 2 assistance will be available to help Santa Clara County residents with the proper management of fire-related ash and debris.  We have not yet received the official details on the State’s Phase 2 assistance program, but will communicate the information upon receipt.  Historically, only those properties where State or federal contractors have determined that Phase 1 is complete are eligible for Phase 2 assistance.

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Stay Up To Date

This webpage will be updated with additional guidance, forms, and resources as they become available.  For additional questions on debris removal, you may call us at (408)918-3411, or send us an email at

Wildfire Recovery and Safety Information Related Links

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