Initial Kincade Fire cleanup focuses on hazardous materials

The long process of cleanup in Sonoma County is underway after the Kincade Fire destroyed more than 170 homes and a couple hundred other structures. 

The initial focus has been on removing the hazardous materials that were burned in the fire. 

Unlike the Tubbs Fire and Camp Fire that concentrated their damage on Santa Rosa and Paradise, the Kincade Fire did a lot of spotty, but widespread damage over a huge area; much of it to public property like roads, roadsides, guard rails and other taxpayer property.

"The impact, I'm sure on the public, on the public is a lot greater than the individual homes and structures, but the infrastructure as well," said Sonoma County ranch owner, Al Coppin.

Mr. Coppin and his son Michael, did not lose their home or barn, but a lot of fencing, trees, plus their water and electrical systems are gone.  

They said insurers need to quickly step up to serving their customers before their own interests.

An example they cite is a huge mowed down row of dozens of big eucalyptus trees that PG&E cut down to protect its lines.

"If it stays here much longer it can be much more of an increased hazard than the original fire. You know, wind is not discriminatory and clearly it's jumped from property to property in many cases. So, PG&E needs to deal with it or the county whoever is responsible," said Coppin. 

In fact, on private property, Sonoma County has warned people to stay away from their destroyed homes until 10 toxic removal crews can get in and remove things like propane tanks, gasoline in vehicles and equipment, paints, pesticide and other toxics.

On Friday KTVU found only one such crew entering private property where we could not go. Despite making several requests, the county decided not to tell us where they were working. Nonetheless, the county claims all the toxic clean ups will be done in two to three weeks.

We asked Al Coppin if he believed the time frame. "No. I don't think that was the experience in the '17 fire, but I, knowing the bureaucracy of the municipalities in Sonoma County, think it's gonna take a lot longer than that," said Coppin.