CalOES To Replace Soil Over-Excavated After Mendocino Redwood Fire

Apr 20, 2018

April 20, 2018 — The California Office of Emergency Services took responsibility for over excavations in the burn zones. At Wednesday’s fire recovery meeting at Eagle Peak Middle School in Redwood Valley, CalOES officials assured survivors that the state will replace excessive soil removed by contractors. One man said the excavations left a trout pond where his house used to be.

Scott Ward, a former senior building inspector who currently works as a consultant in Redwood Valley, said he thought CalOES was late to the game and that the county should have forced the issue earlier.

Ward also wondered about reparations for property owners who have already paid to refill the holes. And he wanted to know if individual grading permits per parcel and site compaction reports would be required. These are reports by a California licensed geotechnical engineer, assuring that disturbed soil is safe to rebuild on. If homeowners rebuild on unsafe soil, their houses could sink.

Mike Oliphant, the county’s building official, is pretty optimistic. He said Cal OES would cover the cost of the compaction reports and all the costs of the fill dirt, including transportation and all labor and equipment. The county will require grading permits.

The state hopes to have the over-excavations resolved in a matter of weeks, but some persistent problems remain. One man said the stress was giving him chest pains. Another said Army Corps contractors had covered his septic tank, though he had marked it. Now he doesn’t know where it is, and he wants to know who is responsible for solving the problem. In answer to another woman’s question about who was responsible when she asked for answers weeks ago, Lamoureux said, “It always has been us.”

I caught up with Lamoureux after the meeting, to talk about contaminants in the soil.

If you believe your parcel has been over-excavated and you would like an assessment, you can call the recovery team at (707) 234-6076.