Fire Response and Recovery
CalEPA and its departments assist local, state and federal agencies during and after major wildfires. The services provided include emergency air monitoring by the California Air Resources Board, identification and removal of hazardous materials by the Department of Toxic Substances Control, and debris and ash removal by CalRecycle. The State Water Resources Control Board monitors water quality and ensures debris removal activities include measures to contain debris on site and prevent ash and other materials from entering rivers, creeks and streams. Click here for Emergency Response Links.
Returning Home After a Fire – Once a wildfire has burned through an area, many dangers may remain. Follow recommended precautions from CAL FIRE when returning home.
Guide to Disaster Assistance Services
The Guide to Disaster Assistance Services for Californians provides detailed information about the types of federal, state and local disaster assistance services available in the state. There are no costs to apply for these programs. Download the Guide
- Cleaning up Wildfire Ash Safely
- Stay Indoors & Reduce Outdoor Activity To Avoid Wildfire Smoke Inhalation
Spanish version: Limpieza de Ceniza de Incendios Forestales
Particle Pollution and Your Health
The United States Environmental Protection Agency provides an in-depth Q&A on air quality and particle pollution.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency explains health effects from asbestos, where to find it and how it affects your family, schools and cleanup sites.
Tips for Protecting Yourself from Asbestos
EPA leads the survey, collection and disposal of household hazardous waste (HHW). As part of this effort, EPA will also address asbestos found on properties. This work will clear the way for later removal of ash and debris, allowing the rebuilding process to begin.
How Smoke from Fires Can Affect Your Health
Fact sheet from the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) on how smoke from fires can affect your health.
Check the Air Quality Where You Live
Wildfires cause poor air quality not only for the affected county but often for neighboring communities and beyond. Track the air quality in your area. Learn how to Protect Yourself During Wildfire – N95 Filter Masks. NIOSH-Approved N95 Respirators.
- Tips for Choosing Indoor Air Cleaner for Effective Indoor Smoke Removal in California
- Use of Particulate Respirators (Masks) to Protect from Wildfire Smoke or Ash
- Using Disposable Respirators (English and Spanish)
- State Public Health Officer Urges Californians to Limit Exposure to Wildfire Smoke
- Return Home Ash Guide
- Return Home Ash Guide – Spanish
CalOSHA and Worker Safety
Cal/OSHA Issues Notice for Worker Safety During Fire Cleanup
Cal/OSHA has posted materials that provide guidance for employers and workers on working safely during fire cleanup.
If you need help paying for or obtaining your prescription drugs, there are services that can assist.
County Health and Human Services
- Please visit your county’s website for more information about local hospitals.
The California Medical Assistance Program (Medi-Cal or MediCal) is California’s Medicaid program serving low-income individuals, including: families, seniors, persons with disabilities, children in foster care, pregnant women, and childless adults with incomes below 138% of federal poverty level. Benefits include ambulatory patient services, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance use disorder treatment, dental (Denti-Cal), vision, and long term care and supports. For more information, please contact your county office. http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/medi-cal/Pages/CountyOffices.aspx
Mental Health Services
When we experience a disaster, people can react with increased anxiety, worry and anger. With community and family support, most of us are able to bounce back. Some of us, however, may need extra assistance to cope with unfolding events and uncertainties. Everyone, even the people that others look up to for guidance and assistance, is entitled to their feelings and deserves support throughout the recovery process.
Department of Health Care Services – Crisis Counseling
Short-term counseling may be available for emotional or mental health problems caused by the impacts of a disaster. For more information, contact your county mental health department. For a listing of these county departments, visit the website at: http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/individuals/Pages/MHPContactList
If you or someone in your care needs additional assistance recovering emotionally from the fires, please reach out to: American Red Cross 24/7 Disaster Distress Helpline: (800) 985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – Disaster Distress Helpline
The Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.