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Cleanup begins at burned mobile home park

March 12, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The cleanup began Thursday at the Oakridge Mobile Home Park in Sylmar, where the Sayre Fire destroyed close to 500 mobile homes last November. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), state and local agencies have come up with a grant to pay for the work. That could clear the way for residents to start rebuilding.

Four months after the Sayre Fire devastated the Oakridge Mobile Home Park, the removal of the debris has begun. It was last November when the wind-driven fire roared through the Sylmar mobile home park. Five hundred homes were destroyed, 1,700 people displaced. A $1.5 million grant from FEMA will pay for most of this cleanup.

"Under the terms of this agreement, FEMA would pay 75 percent, the state would pay 18.75 percent, and the city would be responsible for 6.25 percent of cleanup costs," said Mark Neveau, FEMA federal coordinating officer.

The city of L.A., state and federal officials cut through bureaucratic red tape that allowed Los Angeles to apply for and receive the money. The debris is a health hazard. The ashes that burnt down metal, according to FEMA, should be cleared away by the end of April.

Residents are anxious to move back.

"I miss it. I missed our club house, our bingo night, parties we would have," said former resident Marie Larsen. "It was just a very active area that we lived in here and it was a good community and neighbors -- you don't appreciate neighbors until something happens and I miss every single one of them, all 1,700 of them."

"All I can say now is that yes we will, in terms of this thing being rebuilt," said property owner Myron Reichert. "This is going to come back to where it was."

Reichert said it's really hard to say when the rebuilding can actually begin. He said once the debris has been removed, there's still a lot of cleanup left to do. He's not sure how long that's going to take.


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