State and federal authorities estimated Tuesday that it will cost at least $3 billion to clear debris from 19,000 homes and businesses destroyed by three California wildfires last month.
The insurance industry is bracing for payouts exceeding last year’s record $11.8 billion payments to Northern California fire victims.
California Office of Emergency Services Director Mark Ghilarducci said the state will manage cleanup contracts this time. Hundreds of Northern California homeowners complained contractors last year paid by the ton hauled away too much dirt and damaged unbroken driveways, sidewalks, and pipes. The state OES spent millions of dollars repairing that damage.
Most of the work will occur in Northern California, where the Camp Fire destroyed the city of Paradise and killed at least 86 people, making it the nation’s deadliest wildfire in a century.
Cleanup is expected to begin in January and take about a year to complete, Ghilarducci said. State and federal officials are currently removing hazardous household materials from the damaged properties.