An executive order issued by Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday will allow U.S. Environmental Protection Agency workers to help clean up hazardous waste left by fires that scorched several parts of the state in the past weeks.
Brown declared a state of emergency in the state’s Butte, Lake, Solano, Napa, Sonoma, Yuba, Mendocino, Nevada and Orange counties earlier this month in response to the wildfires, which have resulted in the destruction of more than 8,400 structures, according to Cal Fire.
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said preliminary damage estimates from the fires will exceed $1 billion in losses, while Brown said the damages could be in the tens of billions of dollars.
The executive order will give local and state officials federal assistance in clearing dangerous debris left in the wake of the fires, such as batteries, flammable liquids and asbestos. Those hazards pose a threat to public safety as residents begin to re-enter the areas affected by the fires, and are too large to quickly handle by the state alone, Brown wrote.
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This week, Brown visited firefighters and first responders tackling wildfires in Orange County, a news release from the governor’s office said. Brown, along with U.S. senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, also spoke with residents affected by the fires in Northern California, visiting some of the neighborhoods razed by the flames.
The death toll for those fires rose to at least 42 as of Wednesday.
Here are the the latest figures on the largest Northern California fires, as reported Saturday evening by Cal Fire:
▪ Atlas Fire (Napa, Solano counties): 51,624 acres, 90 percent contained.
▪ Nuns Fire (Sonoma County): 56,216 acres burned, 86 percent contained.
▪ Tubbs Fire (Napa, Sonoma counties): 36,793 acres, 94 percent contained.
▪ Redwood Valley Fire (Mendocino County): 36,523 acres, 95 percent contained.