SONOMA COUNTY (KPIX 5) — The Kincade Fire was officially contained this week after burning 77,000 acres in Sonoma County, but residents are dealing with an unintended consequence.
Firefighters did such a good job protecting towns that homeowners could be on the hook for paying for the cleanup.
174 homes were destroyed, not enough to qualify as a federally declared disaster which means, unlike the Tubbs Fire where more than 5,000 homes burned, homeowners this time will not get federal and possibly not even state funds for debris removal.
Deputy Sonoma County Administrator Michael Gossman took some time to answer questions about the two phase process. Phase 1 involves hazmat removal. “We are not going to charge the home owner,” Gossman said for that part.
But for Phase 2 Gossman said, “That part is going to be a private debris removal program,” which means the homeowners and their insurance are on the hook.
Signs of the furious fire fight are everywhere in the area. Work has begun to try repairing the damage. PG&E crews are working along the roads to restore power. Tree services are also in the roadways removing burned and damaged vegetation.
There are also plenty of signs displayed. Some show gratitude to first responders, while others say, “You loot. We shoot,” and are deadly serious. Emotions are high and no one KPIX 5 spoke to would talk on camera.
The shock of losing their homes is just too great.
“We would much rather have it this way, than the other way,” Gossman said. He added it was “fortunate” that the fire didn’t get as big as the blazes of the past two years.
But the rebuilding process in the Kincade Fire burn zone is just getting started.