Homeowners in Woolsey, Hill fire burn areas finally get OK to start rebuilding

More than six months after the Woolsey and Hill fires destroyed hundreds of homes and burned nearly 100,000 acres in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, property owners now have the green light to rebuild.

Because of the hazardous materials buried in the ash, the state had to come in to clean up and haul away the toxic debris.

According to Mark de Bie with Cal Recycle, the agency charged with managing the cleanup, it's crucial to get paints and gas cylinders and other household waste removed immediately to prevent hazardous material from becoming airborne or seeping into the water and soil.

At the site where state and local officials talked about the final stage of removing the hazardous debris, there once stood a state park, an office building, a house and a maintenance shed.

All of it was destroyed in the Woolsey fire. The state park service, like hundreds of homeowners, is now patiently waiting for permits to rebuild.

Los Angeles County Public Works Director Mark Pestrella says the county is applying all current building code requirements to any new structure in the area. And most property owners have a building code upgrade in their insurance policy that helps them.

The state of California helped pay for the hazardous debris cleanup of every property in the fire zone.

California Office of Emergency Services Deputy Director Eric Lamoureau says the area is closing in on a 100 percent completion after removing more than 838 million pounds of fire ash, debris, metal, concrete and contaminated soil to nearly 1,000 properties in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

So far, four homes and one commercial property have the permits needed to begin rebuilding. The public works director says that number will increase significantly in the next few months.
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