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Debris Removal Program FAQs

Marshall Fire Debris Removal Program Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The questions below are what we have been hearing from people impacted by the Marshall Fire regarding debris and the debris cleanup program. This page will continue to be updated as we receive new questions and more details are known. If you have a question about debris that is not answered below, send an email to Debris@bouldercounty.org.

Recent Questions

Newest questions and answers posted at the top of this section.

If there are items remaining on your property that were ineligible for removal during Private Property Debris Removal (PPDR) but you still want removed, please work with your insurance provider. You can pay for this work using debris removal funds in your insurance policy. The county will collect the funds remaining in your insurance policy’s debris removal balance at a date still to be determined.

Don’t worry, this section will be removed at a later date. This section is considered ineligible per FEMA’s PPDR policy because it most likely was not damaged by the fire. It is being removed separately because we need to account for it differently as FEMA will not reimburse us for this work.

Debris and ash, trees and vegetation, and all steel have been successfully removed from many properties, but that does not mean the property is ready to be returned to the owner. Before you receive your letter stating the property is clear and ready for rebuilding, the following must occur:

  • Soil sampling and testing – If a soil test comes back within the specified standards, the property will move to the next step. If a test does not meet specifications, the property will be re-scraped and retested until it comes back within standards
  • Erosion control installation – Includes a layer of hydro-mulch and installation of straw “waddles.”
  • Final inspection – Boulder County and a representative from the jurisdiction where the property is located will complete a final walkthrough to ensure all work has been completed and completed correctly.

After the final inspection is passed, you will receive a letter returning the right of entry and any associated documentation about the property, including soil sample results. This information will also be provided to your local municipality so they are aware of the property status and can keep this information on file. Once you receive the final letter, the property is ready for physical rebuilding activities.

After all work has been completed, including final erosion control (hydro-mulch application), you will be contacted by a county representative via email and phone and presented with an official letter that releases the Right of Entry back to you.

If found, caissons/piers will be cut to the ground level, and marked so you know where they are located during the rebuilding phase. Please note that often the caissons are broken off below the ground when the concrete slab is removed, so crews may not be aware they are there. If we cannot locate the caissons during debris removal, you can contact your local planning department or visit their website as they often have as-built plans available that show the locations of caissons on the property.

The only exception will be if the footings are horizontal piers or other structural supports below the concrete slab. In this instance, the concrete and/or steel will be cut/broken at the interface and rendered safe from tripping hazards. This primarily pertains to footings that may be in place for houses built on large slopes.

If you’d like to try and keep a tree that has been marked for removal, please complete the following:

  • Send an email with a description of the tree and a photo to Debris@bouldercounty.org
  • If possible, place a “Do Not Remove” sign on the tree

If the tree is not a hazard to crews working on the property, neighbors, or the general public, we will do our best to keep the tree in place. Trees originally marked for removal that are left in place will become the responsibility of the property owner. If the tree fails, the homeowner will be responsible for the cost to remove the tree.

Trees that were left unmarked are not eligible for removal by FEMA’s Private Property Debris Removal (PPDR) Program and cannot be removed by the debris removal team at your site.

To streamline processes and help keep teams and work moving forward, site visits with property owners will be handled when debris removal crews have stated working at a property. Property owners will receive at least five-days notification about when crews are anticipated to arrive at their site to begin work. Originally, property owners were being given 24-48-hours-notice. When work begins, program participants will now be able to be on-site to observe operations and speak with project representatives about the work that is taking place on the site. Advance walkthroughs will no longer be offered, which will greatly assist with staffing resources and help the contractor maintain and improve upon the current pace of debris removal.

Property owners with specific concerns about their site and/or requests for items to remain in place (trees, plants, landscaping, etc.) should make sure they are noted on their right of entry (ROE) form that in the project file by sending an email to ROE@Bouldercounty.org. The project representative who contacts property owners regarding the five-day notice will also go over the ROE we have on file to ensure all comments have been captured.

Yes.

If you have a specified amount for debris removal in your insurance policy, you may use your insurance proceeds to remove fire-related debris that is ineligible for removal under the program (e.g., swimming pools). The local government will only collect remaining insurance proceeds, if any, after you have removed ineligible fire-related debris. If your homeowner’s insurance policy does not have a separate, debris-specific clause and instead includes the costs of debris removal in the total coverage, you may use these proceeds to pay for the removal of fire-related debris that is ineligible for removal under the program. The local government will only collect remaining insurance proceeds, if any, after you have removed ineligible fire related debris. In either scenario, the property owner will be required to substantiate all expenditures.

THE COORDINATED DEBRIS REMOVAL PROGRAM STARTED ON APRIL 19, 2022.

Now that the contractor, DRC, is on board and the ball is rolling towards the cleanup of the first coordinated debris removal program/PPDR property sites, which we’re anticipating will happen in the third or fourth week of April, there are several items that must be taken care of before crews can safely enter sites and begin work, including:

  • Arborist surveys and markings of damaged trees (underway)
  • Utility location and capping of gas, water, and sewer lines – Expected to start the week of April 11
  • Individual site inspections (ISIs) to confirm scope of work and potential safety hazards and mitigation at each property – Mid-April
  • Inspection of trucks and equipment that will be used to remove debris and haul it away – Expected to start the week of April 11
  • Installation of air monitoring stations – Expected to start the week of April 11
  • Installation of stormwater protection and erosion control measures to prevent job site water runoff – Expected to start the right before crews enter properties
  • Establishment of traffic control measures to ensure the safety of all motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians – Will take place a day or two in advance of crews entering neighborhoods.

While this advance preparatory work is being coordinated and conducted, Boulder County and its representatives will be contacting participating property owners to verify the right of entry form and obtain final permissions and an official assignment of benefits authorization to work directly with policy holders’ insurance providers. This contact will be made via phone and/or email in advance of work starting on your property. This will also be the opportunity to inform us of what you’d like removed, including driveways, patios, and sidewalks, and what you’d prefer was kept in place.

After the prep work is completed and paperwork is finalized, the project team will start contacting those property owners who are scheduled to have work completed. At this time, property owners will be able to request a site visit and walk-through prior to debris removal work actually starting.

During the advance site inspection, we will determine if the driveway is damaged and if all or only some of it needs to be removed. Even if the driveway is not damaged, property owners can request that the driveway be removed as part of the debris removal work. You will be able to do this prior to work commencing on your property when the county reaches out to finalize all paperwork.

Crews will use the information provided on the ROE form to search specific locations in the debris where the item(s) might be located. They may use heavy machinery to move large debris and then use hand tools to dig through the remaining material. You will have an opportunity to request that you be present for sifting work, but you will be required to maintain a safe distance. DRC has completed this work during other fire cleanup efforts and will do their best to locate personal items.

Yes, there will be an opportunity to view the work being completed, but you will need to maintain a safe viewing distance.

Before removal begins and during the work, the site will be thoroughly saturated with water to prevent ash from becoming airborne. In addition, Stormwater protection measures will be installed to prevent water from running off into area sewers and waterways. Material that is hauled away will be covered. Some items may be wrapped to ensure that dust and debris cannot get into the air. In addition, air quality monitors will be present with equipment to take samples of the air around the site and in the neighborhood. If monitors find that air containing any harmful materials, they will stop the job to inspect the work and determine corrective measures.

We are working with the state motor vehicle division and local law enforcement to inspect all vehicles that remain on site. Off-duty officers will be used to determine the make and model of the vehicle and obtain the VIN, if possible. This information will be cleared through state databases so that owners can move forward with insurance claims. Vehicles will then be pulled from the debris, cleaned and drained of any remaining fluids, and hauled to a facility designated to handle them.

DRC is working with utility location services to identify and mark all existing service lines. DRC will then cap all private and public lines. DRC will work with property owners who have septic systems and wells to locate and delineate their location. Most septic systems and wells are able to be reused after a fire, so we will do our best to ensure they are not damaged.

Arborists are currently visiting each property and assessing tree damage. Trees that present an immediate safety hazard or are identified as being unable to survive for approximately 5-years will be marked for removal. You can view the tagging system in this document. You may also see a QR code on a tree on the property. You can scan this code to view the tree marking system.

Trees identified for removal will be cut to the ground level or within six-inches. The remaining root structure will remain in place.

In order to remove all ash and debris, crews will be removing up to six-inches of soil. After this soil is removed, the remaining soil will be tested. CDPHE and Boulder County Public Health are currently determining what substances will be tested for and what will use current standards to determine acceptable levels. If the remaining soil tests above acceptable levels for any of the identified substances, more soil will be removed and the land will be retested until the soil is found to be in compliance with standards and regulations. The test results will be provided to the local jurisdiction and the property owner when complete to keep on record.

DRC will not be bringing in new soil to replace what was removed. The land will be graded with a 2 to 1 slope when deemed safe prior to exiting the site. There will be no significant compaction work completed.

With smaller yards, there is likely to be ash throughout the site, so everything will need to be cleared. Inspectors will sample all items to look for ash in bushes, gardens, and other landscaping. If it is found, the land will be cleared along with up-to six-inches of soil.

On larger properties, there may be locations where ash is not present. Land will not be disturbed if ash is not found.

CRC has estimated that it will take between three and five days for the average sized home and lot to be cleared of all ash and debris. Larger lots and those with more concrete flatwork may take longer.

Sprinkler heads will be pulled when removing the incidental soil. If a piece of equipment grabs any pipe or hose, it will also be pulled from the ground. DRC will not be doing a complete sprinkler system removal. It is likely that a new sprinkler system would need to be installed when the new house is built and landscaping is installed, so the old system is most likely no longer useable.

The property owner at the time of the fire and the insurance company they used would still be responsible for the site cleanup. If you are selling or buying a destroyed property site, please contact ROE@bouldercounty.org as soon as possible so that we can note this in our records.

Right-of-Entry (ROE) Form and Cleanup Timeline

Debris removal will be conducted in a three-phase process:

Phase 1 was the placement of roll-off dumpsters for spoiled food and water damaged items. This phase closed Jan. 15.

Phase 2 has multiple components, the first of which includes right-of-way (streets, sidewalks, ditches, trails) removal of imminent threats such as downed trees, vehicles on public roadways, and other large items so we can create safe pathways for pedestrians and vehicles and provide clearance for larger debris removal to occur. This phase has been completed. The second component of Phase 2 (COMPLETED) was the application of hydro-mulch to destroyed properties to prevent wind from disturbing ash/debris and prevent it from entering local waterways. The third component of Phase 2 (COMPLETED) was the curbside sweep of smoke and wind-damaged household items (no fire-related debris will be accepted in the curbside sweep).

Phase 3 is debris removal and mitigation on private properties, coordinated and carried out by the county and its contractor so that it can be rebuilt upon. This phase began on April 19, 2022. DRC Emergency Services, LLC (DRC) has been awarded the contract for debris removal at private properties. They estimate completing phase 3 by the end of the summer, weather permitting.

Foundation removal will be included as part of the debris removal program for properties within unincorporated Boulder County, the Town of Superior, and the City of Louisville. Foundation work will include concrete slab floor and piers that were used to support the overall structure.

Retaining walls will be examined on a case-by-case basis to make a determination on removal. If the structure is deemed a safety hazard, it will be removed.

(Updated March 10) Driveways in unincorporated Boulder County, Superior, and Louisville that were damaged by the fire/heat will be removed.

(Updated March 10) Accessory buildings, like sheds and detached garages, that were destroyed will be included in the debris removal program for properties in unincorporated Boulder County, Louisville, and Superior. Some fencing may also be eligible depending on location on the fence. The county is currently evaluating inclusion of accessory buildings that were damaged and not fully destroyed.

(Updated March 10) Boulder County is working with its own Public Health Department and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) on determining the appropriate level of soil cleanup, but debris removal will include the top 3- to 6-inches of soil. A determination on the eligibility of additional soil for inclusion as part of the Private Property Debris Removal request to FEMA is still unknown, but we remain hopeful they will assist.

Once a property is cleared, DRC will be backfilling ruts, holes, and indentations, but they will not be backfilling basements. They will sluff/grade the basement and then put a fence up around the basement area per OSHA standards.

(UPDATED March 7) Vehicles that remain trapped within the debris will be removed by DRC and hauled away for proper disposal. Vehicle owners should contact their insurance company as soon as possible to complete the claim process on the vehicle.

Boulder County will obtain all permits necessary for the cleanup for property owners who have opted-in to the PPDR program.

Property owners participating in the debris removal program will also receive the following assistance:

  • Independent property assessment
  • Asbestos testing, including concrete and chimney, and certified asbestos professional removal
  • Advance notification of expected arrival by debris removal crew and notification of completion
  • Real-time updates on project schedule (online)
  • Utility locates and confirmation of capping/disconnection
  • Traffic control in the neighborhood
  • Stormwater management protection measures in place before cleanup begins
  • Air monitoring
  • (Updated March 10) – Certified arborist verification of every tree removed – All trees that present a safety hazard will be removed by the contractor
  • Dust control and other environmental mitigation measures such as wetting of debris before removal
  • Proper separation, handling, and disposal of all materials
  • Assurance that everything that can be recycled will be (household hazardous waste, metal, concrete, vegetative debris, etc.)
  • Installation of erosion control measures
  • Third-party monitoring of all work being performed
  • Inspections and closure plan for the property.

Foundations have been deemed not reusable by local building officials from all three jurisdictions; therefore, they will be removed unless a property owner requests them to be retained. If a property owner wishes for their foundation or other on-grade slab work to be retained, please provide a state-licensed structural engineer review to debris@bouldercounty.org stating that your foundation or on-grade slab work is reusable by Monday, March 21, 2022.

Who provides the engineer to survey our foundation if we’d like to keep it in place?

Most often, your insurance company will provide a structural engineer to provide this determination. If they do not, you will need to retain your own state-licensed structural engineer to provide the analysis.

If a property owner opts-in to Boulder County’s Private Property Debris Removal (PPDR) program, FEMA regulations require that, to prevent duplication of benefits, their homeowner’s insurance proceeds for debris removal must be paid to Boulder County. Other than these debris removal insurance proceeds, property owners will not need to pay anything to have their property cleared as part of the PPDR program. Property owners who do not have insurance or whose amount of debris removal insurance proceeds are less than the cost to perform debris removal on their property will not be charged or billed for the cleanup program assistance; instead, these costs will be paid by the federal, state, and local governments.

Property owners who have already received proceeds from their insurance company should set the funds included in the payment for debris removal aside for reimbursement to the county, but only for their debris removal coverage, if any.

Every insurance policy is different, so the exact amount of proceeds collected from each homeowner’s insurance debris removal proceeds will depend on the exact cost to clear your property of debris and the amount of your available debris removal proceeds. The cost to clear each parcel will not be exactly the same, but will generally be in the neighborhood of $45,000-$50,000. For illustration only purposes, here are examples of how this might work:

  • Homeowner A
    • Homeowner’s insurance policy has a line item amount of $25,000 for debris removal.
    • Once completed, the invoice showing the completion of debris removal from Homeowner’s property shows that the total cost was $50,000.
    • Boulder County will collect the $25,000 in debris removal insurance from Homeowner or Homeowner’s insurance company and the other $25,000 will be paid for by the federal, state, and local governments.

  • Homeowner B
    • Homeowner’s insurance policy has a line item amount of $75,000 for debris removal.
    • Once completed, the invoice showing the completion of debris removal from Homeowner’s property shows that the total cost was $50,000.
    • Boulder County will collect the $50,000 in debris removal insurance from Homeowner or Homeowner’s insurance company.

  • Homeowner C
    • Homeowner has no homeowner’s insurance policy.
    • Once completed, the invoice showing the completion of debris removal from Homeowner’s property shows that the total cost was $50,000.
    • The $50,000 will be paid for by the federal, state, and local governments.

The removal of all foundations, including slab foundations, is included as part of the PPDR program and the removal of foundations will be done at no cost to homeowners. Because local building officials have determined that all foundations were made structurally unsound by the fire, your foundation will be removed from your property unless you provide the County with evidence from a state-licensed structural engineer that the foundation is reusable.

Driveways that contained a burned vehicle or were otherwise structurally destroyed will be removed to the nearest joint; otherwise, driveways will not be removed. However, you have the option to have some or all of your concrete flatwork removed from your property at no cost to you. Concrete flatwork is non-damaged/destroyed driveways, patios, or private sidewalks. The cost to remove concrete flatwork is being paid for by the City of Louisville, Town of Superior, or Boulder County, depending on the location of your property.

There are several different entities that are involved in funding private property debris removal.

Exact costs to cleanup each property will vary by site. Boulder County will be working directly with insurance companies to obtain funds in policies dedicated to debris removal. There will be no additional cost beyond the debris removal amount in an insurance policy for debris removal to homeowners who have opted-in to the PPDR program. Boulder County will then provide dedicated debris removal funds from insurance policies for eligible cleanup work to FEMA. No bills will be sent to homeowners after the work is done and insurance money is collected. If a homeowner is not covered for debris removal by their insurance, they will not be billed for the work.

While FEMA does not usually reimburse local government for debris removal from private property, if a disaster generates debris on residential property that is of such magnitude that it creates an immediate threat to public health and safety, such removal may be considered in the public interest. Boulder County may submit costs for private property debris removal that are considered in the public interest, not merely benefitting an individual.

FEMA will then reimburse Boulder County for the costs that are eligible under the PPDR program. For the Marshall Fire Disaster, FEMA Public Assistance funding is reimbursing 90% of the eligible costs, and state/local governments are responsible for the remaining 10%. The City of Louisville, Town of Superior, and Boulder County will be paying for any costs associated with the PPDR program that are found to be ineligible for reimbursement by FEMA, such as driveways (which can be removed at the option of the homeowner).

Boulder County’s debris removal contract is based on a per parcel rate for removal of ash, debris, concrete, incidental soil, and other associated debris. This type of pricing prevents any contractor from unnecessarily removing extra debris because they are paid a flat rate for the removal. Additionally, the debris removal contractor is focused on removing all debris and ash from the property so that the property, once cleared, will meet local jurisdictions’ requirements to rebuild upon. In addition to the debris removal contractor, there is also a separate contractor who is responsible for closely monitoring and tracking the debris removal contractor’s work.

In order to participate in the Phase 3 debris removal program, you must complete and return a Right of Entry (ROE) form, which may be filled out online or printed out and returned via the ways listed on the form. We ask that anyone choosing to participate in the program inform the county of their intention as soon as possible. By opting in before crews get rolling on the cleanup, they’ll have plenty of time to conduct the preliminary inspections and other work required before crews can start on each site.

By choosing to conduct your own structural or ash-related debris clean-up on your own, you would take on all liability associated with that work, and be responsible for following state and local permitting requirements, which will include closeout inspections and utility requirements, deconstruction or demolition permit from your local building department. You will still need to complete a Right of Entry form to opt-out of the debris removal program.

Rules – Regulations – Permits – Requirements for Completing Your Own Debris Removal Work

Includes, but is not limited to:

  • Boulder County requires a Deconstruction Building Permit from a Class M Licensed Contractor (https://bouldercounty.gov/property-and-land/land-use/building/contractor-licensing/)
  • Louisville contractors are required to be licensed with a D license if they are excavators, and must carry a minimum of a C license (with ICC test) for structural work to homes. For safe standing structures they require the Colorado Demolition Permit before they issue the City Demo permit, which includes an asbestos testing requirement. Contractors removing and replacing drywall must have a C license.
  • Boulder County requires a Boulder County Hauler License.
  • There are also specific state, local, and federal environmental regulations specifically for handling and transporting ash and debris from fires, which includes
    • Ash/debris must be wetted to minimize dust; packaged inside a container (such as an end-dump roll-off or truck) lined with double 6-mil plastic sheeting with the sheeting completely closed over the material and sealed once the container is loaded.
    • Ash and debris must be disposed of at an approved landfill.
    • The property owner or contractor must submit written notification to CDPHE’s Indoor Environment Program. This notification should be done using the Disposal Notification Form, Marshall Wildfire, December 2021. https://cdphe.colorado.gov/indoor-air-quality/asbestos
  • A demolition or deconstruction permit from your local jurisdiction (contact your building official).
  • Individual homeowners that do not participate in the County’s debris removal contract and hire their own contractor to do the work need a state construction stormwater permit, unless they meet the following criteria:
    • The contractor hired to perform the work is doing work on behalf of an individual homeowner and not as part of a group of homeowners who have coordinated together to hire a contractor; and
    • Area of disturbance (including excavated area, areas used for material storage and stockpiling, etc) is less than 1 acre.
    • If a homeowner meets the above criteria, they do not need a state construction stormwater permit; however, the homeowner and their contractor are still required to follow any local requirements around sediment and erosion control and debris management (i.e. no tracking of mud onto local roadways, no illicit discharges, minimize sediment leaving the lot, no illegal dumping, etc).
  • Contractors should consult with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) at (303) 844-5285 (Denver) to determine training and personal protective equipment that will be required for those handling this material.
  • Soil under/surrounding the building should be scraped to ensure that all ash and building debris has been removed from the site, and soil sampling should be conducted after scraping pursuant to the State or County’s sampling protocols.
  • Utilities must be capped.
  • All documentation of proper protocols/procedures must be made available upon request in order for site closure to be approved by your local building official.

Lastly, we are advising property owners who are opting out of the county debris program to contact their insurance agent about whether they have debris removal included in their policy so they can avoid an under or uninsured situation.

Boulder County requires written consent from property owners to access their private property to perform Phase 3 private property debris removal (PPDR). By submitting an ROE Form, homeowners are opting into the County’s debris removal program and granting the County permission to access and enter onto their property to perform these critical functions to protect the public health and safety, and help homeowners begin their rebuilding process as quickly as possible

You have already provided your insurance information on the Right of Entry (“ROE”) Form. On that form, you acknowledged the County’s need to collect your debris removal insurance proceeds. As part of our pre-debris removal work outreach, the County will be providing each participating homeowner with an Assignment of Benefits (“AOB”) Form that will also need to be completed and returned. This AOB Form will allow the County to work directly with your insurance company to collect the debris removal proceeds. For homeowners who have already received their debris removal proceeds, the County will contact you at a later date directly to collect the amount of your received proceeds. It is important to put this money aside if you have already received it.

Property owners can opt-out of the program, but we ask that you provide as much notice as possible so we can ensure our records are correct and no work actually takes place. To opt-out, you must complete a new Right of Entry form.

By choosing to conduct your own structural or ash-related debris clean-up on your own, you would take on all liability associated with that work, and be responsible for following state and local permitting requirements, which will include closeout inspections and utility requirements, and deconstruction or demolition permit from your local building department. Please be aware that Boulder County requires a Deconstruction Building Permit from a Class M licensed contractor as well as a Boulder County Hauler License.

There are also specific state, local, and federal environmental regulations specifically for handling and transporting ash and debris from fires. Any contractor hauling ash and debris assumes all liability for transporting this hazardous material, which must be properly profiled and manifested through an approved landfill.

Individual homeowners that do not participate in the County’s debris removal contract and hire their own contractor to do the work need a state construction stormwater permit, unless they meet the following criteria:

    • The contractor hired to perform the work is doing work on behalf of an individual homeowner and not as part of a group of homeowners who have coordinated together to hire a contractor; and, Area of disturbance (including excavated area, areas used for material storage and stockpiling, etc) is less than 1 acre.
    • If a homeowner meets the above criteria, they do not need a state construction stormwater permit, however, the homeowner and their contractor are still required to follow any local requirements around sediment and erosion control and debris management (i.e. no tracking of mud onto local roadways, no illicit discharges, minimize sediment leaving the lot, no illegal dumping, etc).

Lastly, we are advising property owners who are opting out of the county debris program to contact their insurance agent about whether they have debris removal included in their policy so they can avoid an under or uninsured situation.

If I am choosing to opt out of the County’s debris removal program, do I still need to fill in my insurance information on the Right of Entry Form?

No, the County does not need insurance information from property owners that are entirely opting out of the County’s debris removal program.

Do I have to check one of the two opt-out boxes?

No, if you are choosing to participate in all aspects of the County’s debris removal program, you should not check either of the two opt-out boxes on the Right of Entry Form.

What is the difference between the two opt-out boxes on the Right of Entry Form?

You should only check one of these two opt-out boxes only if you are requesting to opt-out of all or part of the County’s debris removal program.

  • If you check the first box, you are giving your permission for the County to perform some debris removal services on your property; specifically, imminent hazard removal (if imminent hazards exist in the debris on your property) and the application of hydro-mulching to mitigate ash that might be carried by wind or stormwater. By checking this box, you are notifying the County that you are opting out of all other aspects of its debris removal program, most importantly the removal/mitigation of all fire-damaged debris from your property so that it can be rebuilt upon.
  • If you check the second box, are you are notifying the County that you are opting your property out of all aspects of its debris removal program, including the application of hydro-mulching to mitigate ash that might be carried by wind or stormwater and the removal/mitigation of all fire-damaged debris from your property so that it can be rebuilt upon

If I opt-out of all or part of the County’s debris removal services now, if I change my mind later, can I opt in?

You can change your opt-in preferences up until the day we contact you to notify you that work is planned to begin on your property, but the sooner you can let us know the more you can help the overall effort. There are a few reasons for this deadline. One reason for this deadline is so that the County can work with its contractors as soon as possible to begin applying hydromulch, Another reason is so that the County can begin planning for and carrying out the removal/mitigation of all fire-damaged debris from properties that have not opted out of the program. And the third reason is our contractors are obligated to ensure that all necessary mitigation and removal work is performed, and our contractor therefore cannot take over the mitigation/debris removal process from a different contractor or from you if you have performed some of this work yourself. The reason for this is that structural fire debris removal is subject to various rules and regulations and the County cannot take any action that could be construed as assuming liability for noncompliant work.

The deadline for opting out of the program happens when a project representative contacts you to inform you that work will soon begin on your property. Please send an email to ROE@bouldercounty.org as soon as possible to inform us of your request to opt-out so that we can update plans and schedules.

No, the County will not conduct debris removal on any property where the owner or any of its contractors or agents are undertaking separate debris removal functions. The reason for this is that structural fire debris removal is subject to various rules and regulations and the County cannot take any action that could be construed as assuming liability for noncompliant work.

No, the county will work directly with the Phase 3 debris removal contractor to obtain demolition permits for all properties participating in the debris removal program.

The County’s debris removal program will be paid for by a combination of insurance proceeds, FEMA reimbursement, and local and state funds. The ROE Form includes a Duplication of Benefits section that explains that homeowners participating in the Phase 3 debris removal program are agreeing to provide their insurance information and cooperate with Boulder County to ensure that all debris removal insurance proceeds are paid toward the total cost of the PPDR program’s debris removal work.

The order of operations and schedule have been developed using several prioritization criteria, including imminent hazards, environmental justice/climate equity, environmental hazards, and individual site specifics that have been gathered during initial inspection. A concerted effort will be made to equally distribute the clean-up efforts amongst Louisville, Superior and Unincorporated Boulder County.

Property owners will be notified in advance of work commencing on their site. They will also be notified soon after work has been completed.

Vehicles were removed from public rights-of-way during Phase 2. For vehicles on private property, please contact your auto insurance agent to arrange for the removal of your vehicle from private property. No permit is required to remove your vehicle from your property. If you or anyone you know believes their vehicle has been towed, they should call Marv’s Towing at 303-444-4460 to complete the VIN clearance, insurance inspection, and abatement process.

For vehicles still remaining on a property and unable to be removed due to site conditions, DRC will be removing and disposing of these vehicles for property owners who have opted-in to the coordinated debris removal program. Please contact your insurance company to file a claim on any vehicle as soon as possible.

Our goals are to create a safe space for pedestrians and vehicular traffic first by removing imminent threats, to get people in smoke and wind-impacted areas back into their homes safety and quickly, and provide debris removal on fire-impacted properties as quickly as possible to help the rebuilding process to begin sooner. You can help get the debris removed more quickly by staying up-to-date on the phases of work, knowing when your neighborhood work is to be completed, and following all instructions provided for properly sorting and disposing of your debris.

* For property owners opting out of the county debris program, in addition to state requirements, Boulder County requires a Deconstruction Building Permit from a Class M Licensed Contractor (https://bouldercounty.gov/property-and-land/land-use/building/contractor-licensing/), as well as a Boulder County hauler license.

FEMA Private Property Debris Removal Program (PPDR) only covers debris removal for destroyed homes (less than two conjoining walls standing); however, the County is applying for economic recovery funding to help cover the debris removal cost for those with damaged homes. More information will be provided as it is known.

We understand that many property owners my want to watch the work being completed on their property, especially when sifting is occurring before debris removal. We will provide notice to property owners in advance of work commencing at their site. Property owners will be allowed at the site as long as there is no heavy machinery operating. As soon as large equipment begins work, only authorized personnel will be allowed on site.

If there are items on your property that you would like left in place, like landscaping, please make sure this is noted on your ROE form.

Environment

A certified arborist will assess trees damaged by the fire. If a tree is deemed a public safety hazard by the arborist, it will be removed as part of the debris removal program.

Yes, all measures to protect air quality will be employed. We will apply hydro mulch on ash debris as a soil stabilizer to mitigate potentially harmful particles from blowing in the wind and running off into waterways. Air quality will be monitored through the duration of the clean-up efforts and will be published daily. Learn more by visiting the county’s wildfire air quality webpage.

In phase 3 of the county’s debris removal program, soil testing for RCRA 8 metals (arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, selenium, and silver) will be conducted after the soil has been scraped 3 to 6 inches on any site with a destroyed property. Asbestos testing for soil is not required, but may be conducted for materials such as foundations being removed to ensure they are free from asbestos before recycling the concrete. No asbestos testing will be provided outside of the county coordinated program as part of the debris removal program.

We will do our best to see that unaffected landscaping will not be disturbed during debris removal. A certified arborist will be monitoring all vegetative debris removal to ensure that undamaged vegetation remains intact.

Yes. All materials that are recyclable will be diverted from the landfill unless they test positive for heavy metals or asbestos.

As part of the County’s Phase 3 Private Property debris removal work, a certified arborist will review and assess trees damaged by the wildfire to determine whether they present a public safety hazard and must be removed. Our goal is to preserve as much vegetation as possible.

We currently do not expect groundwater contamination to be a significant threat. Our efforts have been centered on debris removal so that pollutants do not get mobilized and impact surface waters such as Coal Creek and Rock Creek.

If this question is in reference to a private drinking water well, BCPH suggests the following:

  • If your drinking water is provided by a well, have your well water tested to ensure that it has not been contaminated – power outages can cause a loss of pressure allowing contamination to enter your water.
  • Do not use the water for drinking, cooking, or brushing teeth until test results are received. More information on water testing is available at www.boco.org/watertesting.
  • If your wellhead is damaged, hire a professional service provider to restore water.

The hydro-mulch mixture that was applied to properties contained more of the guar (sticky material that hardens) than mulch, which is why treated land may not look like it would after hydro-mulch is applied in normal applications, such as at construction sites. The mixture used for Marshall Fire properties is effective at preventing ash and other material from being blown away in the wind or running off into area waterways. All hydro-mulched properties are inspected after work is completed to verify that work was completed correctly and to specifications.

We’ve heard that some people are concerned that not every square inch on each property was sprayed. That was because we didn’t want crews entering properties with hoses and disturbing more ash as they were spraying. In addition, crew members entering properties would’ve been exposed to the ash/debris and they were not equipped or trained on how to safely complete that type of work. Material was applied using a water canon mounted to the top of a tanker truck that was parked in the street or a short distance into a driveway, so the hydro-mulch couldn’t be applied to areas behind walls and other obstructions that remain in place.

Structure & Debris Removal

If more than one conjoining wall of a structure is standing and not in immediate danger of collapsing, FEMA considers the removal of that structure to be demolition and not debris removal.

The county can seek reimbursement from FEMA through the Private Property Debris Removal Program (PPDR) only for debris removal for destroyed homes (less than two conjoining walls standing).

The county is exploring the possibility of including damaged homes not meeting the definition of destroyed in the Phase 3 debris removal work, so homeowners with damaged homes such as these should complete a ROE Form.

Yes, you can, but both CDPHE and Boulder County Public Health strongly discourage this activity due to numerous health risks. Sifting through debris will not make a property ineligible for the debris cleanup program.

You can make a request on your Right of Entry form for us to retrieve specific personal items and set them aside. Send an e-mail to roe@bouldercounty.org or call the debris hotline at 303-214-3203.

The county plans to remove foundations as part of the Phase 3 work, unless, based on an inspection by a Colorado state licensed structural engineer, a foundation is deemed rebuildable, in which case it will not be removed. This will save the property owner a lot of time and money in their rebuilding efforts, so we want to ensure no foundations are removed unnecessarily.

There will be additional dumpsters placed the weekend of January 14 in Superior, Louisville and unincorporated county.

Yes to all of the above. We’ll also examine driveways and retaining walls. If either were damaged or destroyed by a fire and present a safety hazard, they will be removed. Retaining walls will be examined on a case-by-case basis to make a determination on removal.

If the debris is ash, and it is very deep, CDPHE suggests following the same guidance as with building debris; it provides the best basic protection. Wet the material and shovel into bags or a lined roll-off and take it to an approved landfill. If just a coating, the homeowner could use a vacuum cleaner equipped with HEPA filtration on porches or areas around the house. Clean the tools and throw out the bag after use. Or, use a hose to rinse, not a pressure washer which would tend to splatter, on the exterior of the home, drive and walkways, patios, decks, outdoor furniture and automobiles. Rinse off furnace air intakes and air conditioning units. Do not use leaf blowers to clean outdoor surfaces. Persons engaged in these cleaning activities should follow previous health guidelines including respiratory protection and other PPE. Ash and soot on the ground, roads and vegetation in the vicinity will continue to generate smoke odors and airborne particles when disturbed by air movement or cleanup activities. Until the residual ash and soot is removed or diluted and absorbed by the environment, limit the outdoor time of children and pets and do not let them play around burned structures or large amounts of ash and debris. Take off your shoes and wipe off pets’ paws before they enter your home. Keep windows closed and rely on mechanical ventilation as much as possible. The document on indoor air quality at https://cires.colorado.edu/news/how-mitigate-post-fire-smoke-impacts-your-home has good suggestions on keeping the air inside as clean as possible.

The curbside pickup has been completed.

An informational flyer was been developed to provide curbside pickup details. Please help this effort by:

  • Separating debris into one of five categories, but do not put them in bags
    • Vegetative debris – leaves, logs, plants, branches, etc.
    • Construction & Demolition debris – drywall, carpet, building materials, furniture, lumber, mattresses (Please keep separate), plumbing, textiles, etc.
    • Appliances & White Goods – air conditioners, dishwashers, freezers, refrigerators, stoves, washers/dryers, water heaters, etc.
    • Electronics – computers, radios, stereos, TVs, other devices with cords
    • Household Hazardous Waste – cleaning supplies, batteries, lawn chemicals, oils, oil-based paints and stains, pesticides
      • Please place these items in a plastic bin and label it “HHW” to avoid spills
  • Do not stack or lean materials on trees, poles, or other item as this makes it difficult to collect
  • Place items on the sidewalk, if possible. All items should be placed at the edge of the property before the curb/street.

Tower Landfill, Inc.
8480 Tower Road
Commerce City
Steve Derus: 720-590-4046

Denver Arapaho Disposal Site
3500 S. Gun Club Road
Aurora
Chris Anderson: 720-876-2633

Buffalo Ridge Landfill
11655 WCR 59
Keenesburg
Michelle Wittenbrink: 303-229-8085

Front Range Landfill
1830 WCR 5
Erie
Randy Tourville
303-673-9431

Foothills Landfill
8900 CO-93
Golden, 80403

Since these homes are not eligible for the debris removal program, there are steps you can take to mitigate post-fire impacts. CU Boulder and CIRES experts have compiled a resource of post-wildfire indoor air quality facts and solutions to mitigate smoke impacts in your home or business. If your home or business is still intact but was affected by smoke from the Marshall Fire, please refer to How to Mitigate Post-Fire Smoke Impacts in Your Home by the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Property owners are encouraged to contact their insurance companies about ash remediation work as it should be conducted by a trained professional.

Contractors for the debris removal program will be using mitigation tactics (like watering) when collecting material from destroyed homes so that ash and other materials are not released into the air during cleanup. In addition, loads will be required to be covered when hauling to prevent airborne circulation of ash.

For vehicles on private property, contact your insurance agent to discuss your coverage to have your vehicle towed under your insurance policy. Vehicles left on private property will be removed in the Phase 3 debris removal work, but vehicle owners will need to work with your insurance company to settle the claim.

If you or anyone you know believes their vehicle has been towed, they should call Marv’s Towing at 303-444-4460 to complete the VIN clearance, insurance inspection, and abatement process.

No, you will not be disqualified. In fact, you should immediately work with your insurance company to have your vehicle inspected and towed under your policy. You do not need a permit to remove a vehicle.

Although the County does not currently have an agreement with any of the volunteer organizations related to debris removal, we have worked with Team Rubicon and the Southern Baptists in several past incidents. These volunteer groups are experienced in dealing with wildfire cleanup and offer free assistance to go onto properties and help with safely shifting ash for belongings, tree removal, and sorting debris for disposal or recycling. However, they do not provide all of the necessary services for a complete site clean-up and closure, such as hauling debris off site or completing asbestos inspections or building inspections, or soil remediation or testing work. Know that if you choose to work with them, there will be other services you would have to contract out separately. If there is an opportunity to work with them in our Phase 3 private property debris removal, the County certainly will.

Permitting

For property owners who opt-in to the debris removal program, Boulder County will work on obtaining the permits necessary for debris removal.

By choosing to conduct your own structural or ash-related debris clean-up on your own, you would take on all liability associated with that work, and be responsible for following state and local permitting requirements, which will include closeout inspections and utility requirements, deconstruction or demolition permit from your local building department. You will still need to complete a Right of Entry form to opt-out of the debris removal program.

Rules – Regulations – Permits – Requirements for Completing Your Own Debris Removal Work

Includes, but is not limited to:

  • Boulder County requires a Deconstruction Building Permit from a Class M Licensed Contractor (https://bouldercounty.gov/property-and-land/land-use/building/contractor-licensing/)
  • Louisville contractors are required to be licensed with a D license if they are excavators, and must carry a minimum of a C license (with ICC test) for structural work to homes. For safe standing structures they require the Colorado Demolition Permit before they issue the City Demo permit, which includes an asbestos testing requirement. Contractors removing and replacing drywall must have a C license.
  • Boulder County requires a Boulder County Hauler License.
  • There are also specific state, local, and federal environmental regulations specifically for handling and transporting ash and debris from fires, which includes
    • Ash/debris must be wetted to minimize dust; packaged inside a container (such as an end-dump roll-off or truck) lined with double 6-mil plastic sheeting with the sheeting completely closed over the material and sealed once the container is loaded.
    • Ash and debris must be disposed of at an approved landfill.
    • The property owner or contractor must submit written notification to CDPHE’s Indoor Environment Program. This notification should be done using the Disposal Notification Form, Marshall Wildfire, December 2021. https://cdphe.colorado.gov/indoor-air-quality/asbestos
  • A demolition or deconstruction permit from your local jurisdiction (contact your building official).
  • Individual homeowners that do not participate in the County’s debris removal contract and hire their own contractor to do the work need a state construction stormwater permit, unless they meet the following criteria:
    • The contractor hired to perform the work is doing work on behalf of an individual homeowner and not as part of a group of homeowners who have coordinated together to hire a contractor; and
    • Area of disturbance (including excavated area, areas used for material storage and stockpiling, etc) is less than 1 acre.
    • If a homeowner meets the above criteria, they do not need a state construction stormwater permit, however, the homeowner and their contractor are still required to follow any local requirements around sediment and erosion control and debris management (i.e. no tracking of mud onto local roadways, no illicit discharges, minimize sediment leaving the lot, no illegal dumping, etc).
  • Contractors should consult with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) at (303) 844-5285 (Denver) to determine training and personal protective equipment that will be required for those handling this material.
  • Soil under/surrounding the building should be scraped to ensure that all ash and building debris has been removed from the site, and soil sampling should be conducted after scraping pursuant to the State or County’s sampling protocols.
  • Utilities must be capped.
  • All documentation of proper protocols/procedures must be made available upon request in order for site closure to be approved by your local building official.

Lastly, we are advising property owners who are opting out of the county debris program to contact their insurance agent about whether they have debris removal included in their policy so they can avoid an under or uninsured situation.

Boulder County requires a Deconstruction Building Permit from a Class M Licensed Contractor (https://bouldercounty.gov/property-and-land/land-use/building/contractor-licensing/), as well as a Boulder County hauler license (boco.org/haul). Local municipalities may have additional requirements. The State demolition permitting requirements are waived; however, the building owner or contractor must submit written notification to CDPHE’s Indoor Environment Program. This notification should be done using the Disposal Notification Form. There is no fee associated with this notification.

Yes, check with your local building official and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Yes. Properties in unincorporated Boulder County should check with the Community Planning & Permitting Department for more information. Resident of Louisville and Superior should check with their own Planning departments.

Contact Us

Right-of-Entry (ROE)

Debris Hotline 303-214-3203

Submit a question:

ROE@bouldercounty.org

Location

Boulder County Recycling Center
1901 63rd St
Boulder, CO 80301
Map & Directions
Hours: 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. M-F




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