Penalties for property owners affected by Erskine Fire; remove your debris or get fined

Posted at 10:33 AM, Aug 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-26 13:33:25-04
Kern County is preparing to hit 76 property owners who lost their homes in the devastating Erskine Fire with orders to remove trash and fire debris from their land.
But they can avoid the order - and costly penalties - by either cleaning up the mess or even better, signing a nine-page form letting the state do it for them for free.
The debris is potentially full of asbestos, heavy metals and other public health threats, said Georgianna Armstrong, emergency services manager with the Kern County Fire Department.
So all the properties will be cleaned up - one way or another.
"They're either going to pay for it out of their own pocket or they're going to sign up for the Cal OES debris removal project," Armstrong said.
People whose homes and/or property were destroyed in the Erskine Fire can get their property cleared in a couple of ways.
1) Sign up online:
Visit the Kern County Public Health website at Scroll down to the middle of the page and click on the "Erskine Fire" tab on the right side. Click on the "Erskine Fire right-of-entry permit" link at the top of the page. Fill out the form and submit it by fax or email.
2) Sign up in person:
Go to the old Ruby's Flower Shop in the Vons Shopping Center at 5540 Lake Isabella Blvd., Suite E3. Workers will be able to assist residents in completing the right-of-entry form and signing up.
Supervisors will decide whether to issue the clean-up orders Tuesday, giving owners 30 days to act.  
Homeowners can get the work done by the California Office of Emergency Services. All they have to do is sign a form by Sept. 6 giving the agency permission to do the cleaning.
So far, 76 property owners haven't turned in the letter, Kern County Public Works Director Craig Pope wrote in a letter attached to the agenda for Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting, 
Clearing the property is especially important to property owners who did not have insurance, Armstrong said.
The county is working with the State of California to bring 71 emergency shelters - basically portable homes - to Kern for uninsured Erskine victims.
Around 100 property owners who lost homes were uninsured, according to Kern County Fire Chief Brian Marshall.
But to get a shot at one of the homes, which come free of charge, homeowners must clear their property of all debris and potentially hazardous materials.