Cleanup & Health Resources

Cleanup Resources 

Health Resources 



General Cleanup Information

After you have checked for the proper functioning of your utilities and have been cleared by a county damage assessment team, you can start the cleanup of your home and property. Start to create an inventory and take photographs of things that have been damaged from fire, smoke, water, or chemicals. Do not throw away any damaged belongings or make repairs until your have spoken with your insurance company. Keep detailed records of all cleanup costs including materials and labor to submit to your insurance company or for income tax loss deductions. 

Tips for Cleaning Up Your Property

Burned Vehicles

Vegetation Recovery 


Inside Burned Structures

Ash and debris inside burned structures may contain more toxic substances than forest fire ash because of synthetic materials present in buildings. In addition, be aware that older buildings may contain asbestos and lead. If you have a structure which contains these materials, do not attempt to clean it yourself. Dust masks will not protect you from these harmful materials. For more information on asbestos removal view the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District's site at   

A more cautious approach should be taken in the removal of ash and other debris from inside burned structures, so make sure to keep the following in mind:

  • Don't work in or around any building damaged by fire until it has been examined and certified as safe for work by a registered professional engineer or architect.
  • Wear proper clothing including, a long sleeve shirt or jacket, long pants, boots, gloves, and safety mask (preferably one rated N-95 or P-100).
  • Do not consume any food, beverages or medications that have been exposed to smoke, ash, heat, pressure, or chemicals.
  • Persons with heart or lung disease should consult a physician before doing cleanup inside burned buildings.
  • Smoke can permeate cloth and other materials leaving with an intense smoky smell. While some clothing may require dry cleaning, other clothing should be washed in warm water with liquid detergent for one to five launderings.
  • Commercial cleaning may be needed for carpet, upholstery, and window treatments.
  • Do not allow children to play in ash.
  • Clean all children's toys before use.
  • Clean stove and hood filters.
  • Clean and sanitize utensils, glasses, dishware and food contact areas such as countertops and cupboards. To decontaminate these items:
    1. Wash them in a strong detergent solution
    2. Soak in a bleach solution of one teaspoon of bleach per quart of water. Soak for 15 minutes.
    3. Wash, rinse, air dry

*You can also use the long wash cycle on your dishwasher to disinfect your wares as long as it is debris free, heats water to at least 140 degrees Farenheight and has a heated drying cycle.

 Additional Hazardous Waste and Recycling Resources

Public Works Department, County of Santa Barbara
Resource Recovery & Waste Management Division

Phone: (805) 568-3600


California Dept. of Toxic Substances Control
Handling Ash, Debris and other Hazardous Materials from Burned Structures
Management of Hazardous Wastes from Burned Areas

Ash Cleanup

To clean ash, remember the three C's, Control, Contain and Capture.

Control: Try to control the amount of ash particles that get re-suspended into the air. Avoid using any equipment that blows ash into the air such as shop vacuums or leaf blowers. Instead, use vacuums with HEPA filters.

Contain: Contain ash by gently sweeping indoor and outdoor hard surfaces followed by wet mopping with a damp cloth. Ash may be disposed of in regular trash receptacles or in plastic bags. You may also allow water from cleaning to drain into landscaping as ash will not hurt plants or grass.

Capture: Protect storm drains from ash and any cleaning chemicals used while cleaning by diverting away from storm drains or recapturing. Ash is highly acidic, which is harmful for people, the environment and aquatic life.

For more information on ash cleanup contact:

Public Works Department, County of Santa Barbara
(805) 568-3000

For more information about watershed protection, visit:

 Health Information

Health and Safety Hazards Associated With Fire Clean Up 

Los Peligros De Salud y De Seguridad Asociados con la Limpieza Despues de un Fuego 

Cal/OSHA Wildfire Cleanup Handouts  

Wildfire Smoke

Today's Air Quality - APCD  (805) 961-8833